Call for more ASN resources as pupil numbers rise again

Proportion of pupils with additional support needs increases, prompting plea for urgent action
16th December 2020, 9:57am
Tes Reporter

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Call for more ASN resources as pupil numbers rise again

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/call-more-asn-resources-pupil-numbers-rise-again
Call For More Asn Resources As Pupil Numbers Rise Again

The Scottish government has been urged to increase funding for children with additional support needs as the number of ASN pupils has again increased.

Official national statistics show the number of ASN pupils increased from 215,897 to 226,838 between 2019 and 2020, up by 1.4 per cent.

The proportion of ASN pupils among the student population has also increased to 32.3 per cent from 30.9 per cent.


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A review released earlier this year into ASN education by Professor Angela Morgan repeatedly referenced the "rationing" of resources in the sector, adding that "there has been a strength of concern expressed to the review about the loss of specialist expertise and practice experience through reductions and changes in career pathways, as well as due to resource pressures".

According to a report published alongside the new statistics, there has been a "marked" increase in the number of ASN pupils since 2010, which can be attributed "in part to continued improvements in recording".

Scottish government statistics also show that, since 2012, the number of ASN pupils has almost doubled from 118,034 - a 92.2 per cent increase.

The Scottish Children's Services Coalition (SCSC) responded to the new figures by calling on the Scottish government to increase its funding for ASN pupils.

An SCSC spokesperson said: "While it is promising that this increase tells us that more young people with ASN are being identified, it is against a worrying background of damaging cuts to services.

"Ensuring the adequate provision of educational support for children and young people with ASN is critical, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and the damaging impact this will have on them.

"We are committed to the principle of inclusive education and to the policy of educating young people with ASN in mainstream classes, where this is the most appropriate environment for their learning.

"However, we have major concerns over a lack of resources and specialist staff to support these children and young people. This clearly has an impact not only on the individuals concerned but also on their peers and teachers."

The spokesperson called for local and national government to work with the private and third sectors to provide "necessary resourcing".

The SCSC added: "The cost to society in the long term, if adequate resourcing is not provided, will far outweigh any potential savings made today."

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: "All children and young people should receive the support that they need to reach their learning potential and all teachers provide support to pupils with additional support needs, not just 'support for learning' staff.

"Councils are responsible for identifying and meeting the additional support needs of their pupils.

"The independently chaired review of the implementation of additional support for learning, led by Angela Morgan, was published in June. It set a clear direction in how we can continue to build on progress in this area."

The Scottish government has promised an extra £15 million per year to respond "to the individual needs of children and young people".

The comments come as the EIS teaching union released a briefing paper based on the views of teachers in special education settings during the coronavirus pandemic.

One teacher claimed it is "impossible" for them to do their job well while socially distancing from pupils, adding: "The health and safety advice which is given across the school doesn't seem to apply to us - our biggest protection is crossing our fingers."

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan called for "sufficient bespoke mitigations" to be put in place for teachers in ASN settings, taking into account "the unique circumstances" of the sector.

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