Fall in specialist teachers for children with additional needs

By Tom Eden, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland
The number of additional support needs teachers in Scotland has dropped by 483 since 2010, the Scottish Greens say.

The number of additional support needs teachers in Scotland has fallen by more than 400 since 2010, the Scottish Greens have revealed.

Although official figures show the number of children with additional support needs (ASN) has risen by more than 130,000 during the period, the number of specialist teachers has dropped by 428.

The latest figures show there was the full-time equivalent of 3,459 ASN teachers across Scotland compared to 3,887 in 2010.

The party’s education spokesman Ross Greer MSP, who requested the Scottish Government figures, described the situation as “unacceptable”.

Mr Greer said: “Far too many children in Scotland with additional support needs are being failed.

“To have just one ASN specialist teacher for every 58 young people with diagnosed additional needs, never mind the thousands more whose needs are not diagnosed yet, is just unacceptable.

“It fails not just the children with additional needs but every other child in the class, not to mention the classroom teachers who don’t have the additional staff they desperately need.

“The Scottish Greens have put local council funding first in budget negotiations these last three years, and we’re proud that we’ve delivered the extra resources and reforms councils desperately need. It’s a long road back to where we were before 2010 though.

“Nearly a decade of budget cuts need undoing, and until that happens Greens will keep fighting for the funds councils need to deliver essential services for everyone in our communities.”

The number of additional support needs teachers in Scotland has fallen in all-but-one year since 2010.

But the number of classroom assistants, ASN auxiliaries and care assistants has risen to more than 12,000 for the first time in at least a decade.

Compared to the recently-published pupil census, the Scottish Greens note that for every 58 ASN pupils there is one specialist teacher, an increase from one to 55 in 2017 and one teacher to every 18 pupils in 2010.

Education secretary John Swinney said: “All teachers provide support to pupils with additional support needs, not just ‘support for learning’ teachers.

“Education authorities are responsible for identifying and meeting the additional support needs of their pupils.

“This includes the employment and provision of appropriate resources, including teaching and support staff, to meet children’s needs.

“The number of non-teaching staff in schools who have a role in supporting pupils with additional support needs – including pupil support assistants, home-school link workers, behaviour support staff, educational psychologists and school nurses – has risen 12% since 2012.”