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)
|Argyll & Bute||4,561|
|City of Edinburgh||1,737|
|Dumfries & Galloway||3,168|
|Na h-Eileanan Siar||4,862|
|Perth & Kinross||2,783|
|All Local Authorities||3,224|