The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is urging councils and the government to work together.
An alliance of providers of children’s services has called for greater resourcing to support children and young people with additional support needs (ASN), such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) have made the call in advance of the local council elections on Thursday, as new figures reveal that spend per pupil with ASN has slumped dramatically.
These figures come against a backdrop of the number of pupils with ASN increasing and the number of specialist teachers supporting them dropping to a new low.
The SCSC is calling on incoming local authority administrations to put the needs of vulnerable children and young people at the very heart of policy and funding commitments.
The figures highlight that average spend per pupil on additional support for learning by councils in Scotland has fallen from £4,276 in 2012/13 to £3,402 in 2020/21 in cash terms.
This amounts to an overall cut in spending of £874 per pupil, representing a 20.4 per cent drop.
Spend per pupil ranges from £2,210 in the Scottish Borders to £5,901 in the Shetland Islands, pointing to a “postcode lottery” in spend across local councils, according the the coalition.
This fall is against the backdrop of a 92.2 per cent increase since 2012 in the number of pupils identified with ASN, from 118,011 to 226,838 in 2020. Those with ASN currently represent just under a third of all pupils.
Between 2012 and 2020 the number of full-time equivalent ASN teachers has also fallen from 3,389 to all-time low of 2,860, a decrease of 529 teachers, representing a cut in numbers of 15.6 per cent.
Against the background of Covid-19 and its disproportionate impact on those with ASN, the SCSC has called for greater resourcing from both the Scottish Government and councils to ensure that those with ASN in Scotland’s schools receive the care and support they need
A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, when they need it, especially as we come out of the current Covid-19 crisis. This is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap as we know that those with ASN are disproportionately drawn from poorer neighbourhoods.
“Given this, it is disappointing to note cuts in spending to those with ASN and we would urge Scotland’s newly elected councils to put the needs of vulnerable children and young people at the very heart of policy and funding commitments.
“Councils and the Scottish Government must work together to provide the necessary resourcing to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN, who represent some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.”