Support in terms of cash and teachers can't cope with rising demand
An alliance of leading third sector organisations has called for greater resourcing to support children and young people with additional support needs (ASN).
The call, from Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), comes as new figures contained in a parliamentary answer reveal that spend per pupil with ASN has slumped dramatically, while the number of specialist teachers supporting them has dropped to a new low and the number of pupils with ASN has escalated dramatically.
The figures highlight that average spend per pupil on additional support for learning by local authorities in Scotland (primary, secondary and special education) has fallen from £4,276 in 2012 to £3,224 in 2020 (in cash terms), amounting to an overall cut in spending of £1,052 per pupil, representing a 24.6% drop.
Spend per pupil ranges from £1,737 in Edinburgh to £5,849 in the Shetland Islands, pointing to a ‘postcode lottery’ in spend across local authorities (see Notes to Editors for figures per local authority).
Between 2012 and 2020 the number of full-time equivalent ASN teachers (publicly funded primary, secondary, special and centrally employed) has fallen from 3,389 to 2,836, a decrease of 553 teachers, representing a cut of 16.3 per cent and an all-time low.
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 local authorities 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, especially during and 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 disproportionately come from lower income families and areas of deprivation.
“Such a situation is clearly challenging in an environment of austerity and evidence of cuts in spending per pupil with ASN and in the number of specialist teachers supporting this group.
“It is vital that the Scottish Government and local authorities 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.”