The SCSC News

Call for greater resourcing as spending to support vulnerable children is slashed

Published on June 28, 2021
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition calls for greater resourcing to support children and young people with additional support needs as new figures highlight major spending cuts.
  • Cut in spend of £1,052 per pupil with ASN since 2012
  • ‘Postcode lottery’ of spending between local authorities on ASN
  • Increase of just under 100,000 in the number of pupils with ASN since 2012
  • Cut in the number of ASN teachers to an all-time low

An alliance of leading providers of children’s services, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), 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 call comes as new figures contained in a parliamentary answer to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, reveal that spend per pupil with ASN has slumped dramatically, while the number of pupils with ASN has escalated dramatically and the number of specialist teachers supporting them has dropped to a new low.

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 2012/13 to £3,224 in 2019/20 (in cash terms). This amounts to an overall cut in spending of £1,052 per pupil, representing a 24.6 per cent 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).

This fall is against the backdrop of an 82.9 per cent increase since 2012 in the number of pupils identified with ASN, from 118,011 to 215,897 in 2019 (Pupil Census 2020, table 1.5), amounting to 97,886 individuals. Those with ASN currently represent just under a third of all pupils (30.9 per cent).

Between 2012 and 2019 the number of full-time equivalent ASN teachers (publicly funded primary, secondary, special and centrally employed) has fallen from 3,389 to an all-time low of 2,836, a decrease of 553 teachers (Teacher Census 2020, table 6.5), representing a cut in numbers of 16.3 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 local authorities to ensure that those with ASN in Scotland's schools receive the care and support they need.

A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:

“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 are disproportionately drawn from poorer neighbourhoods.

“With evidence of cuts in spending per pupil with ASN and in the number of specialist teachers supporting this group, being able to achieve this is clearly challenging.

“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.“

Notes to Editors

Table 4 – Additional support for learning spending per pupil (£, cash terms)

Aberdeen City 2,883
Aberdeenshire 2,276
Angus 3,354
Argyll & Bute 4,561
City of Edinburgh 1,737
Clackmannanshire 4,211
Dumfries & Galloway 3,168
Dundee City 2,027
East Ayrshire 4,423
East Dunbartonshire 4,310
East Lothian 4,111
East Renfrewshire 2,740
Falkirk 3,803
Fife 2,898
Glasgow City 3,979
Highland 2,980
Inverclyde 3,801
Midlothian 4,389
Moray 3,340
Na h-Eileanan Siar 4,862
North Ayrshire 2,711
North Lanarkshire 5,602
Orkney Islands 4,768
Perth & Kinross 2,783
Renfrewshire 3,833
Scottish Borders 2,231
Shetland Islands 5,849
South Ayrshire 4,952
South Lanarkshire 2,787
Stirling 3,061
West Dunbartonshire 3,662
West Lothian 2,593
All Local Authorities 3,224


  1. Local Financial Returns – Education (LFR 01) statistical return provided by local authorities to the Scottish Government.
  2. Pupil Census – 2019 school statistics collected by Scottish Government.

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