​​​​​​​Additional support needs: key statistics

Pupils with ASN were five times more likely to be excluded from school in Scotland than other pupils, new figures show

Additional support needs: key facts and statistics on ASN

Various reports on additional support needs have been published by the Scottish government today, including a statistics update. Here are some of the key figures:

  • There were 688,959 pupils in Scotland’s state schools in 2017, of which 183,491 were reported to have additional support needs (ASN) (26.6 per cent of all pupils). Some 60 per cent of all ASN pupils were male.
  • The most common additional support needs are “social and emotional behavioural difficulties” (39,642 pupils – 14 per cent), “English as an additional language” (30,135 – 11 per cent), and “other moderate learning difficulties” (27,922 – 10 per cent).
  • Some other ASN recorded in Scottish schools include: “autistic spectrum disorder” (14,973 – 5 per cent); “dyslexia” (19,887 – 7 per cent); “mental health problem” (3,330 – 1 per cent); “more able pupil” (3,274 – 1 per cent); and “young carer” (2,500 – 1 per cent).

Additional support needs research: Key findings

Long read: How youth work made a teacher re-evaluate everything she’d ever done in a mainstream classroom

A parent’s view: How to make schools better for autistic pupils

Quick read: ASN teachers ‘receive little or no training’


  • Some 16,742 pupils were recorded as having a disability, meaning that they have been assessed by a practitioner as having a disability or have declared themselves as having a disability.
  • There were 11,352 temporary exclusions of ASN pupils in 2016-17. Pupils with ASN were five times more likely to be excluded from school than other pupils, but exclusions for pupils without additional support needs have fallen significantly (by 30 per cent) in recent years.
  • 60.7 per cent of ASN pupils left school with one or more qualification at National 5 or equivalent or better in 2014-15, up 8 percentage points since 2011-12 .
  • 85.6 per cent of ASN pupils left school in 2014-15 with one or more qualification at National 4 or equivalent or better, up 6.5 percentage points since 2011-12.
  • 87.1 per cent of ASN school leavers achieved a “positive destination” in 2015-16, up 4.8 percentage points since 2011-12.
  • Of 51,513 teachers in Scottish state schools, 2,838 had additional support for learning as their main subject taught.
  • The 13,763 staff supporting pupils with additional support needs in Scottish state schools include: pupil support assistants; behaviour support staff; home-school link workers; school nurses or other medical support; and educational psychologists.
  • Some 170,905 ASN pupils, according to today’s figures, spend all their time in mainstream classes, while 8,381 spend no time in mainstream classes; others spend some time in mainstream classes.
  • Local government statistics for 2016-17 showed that local authorities spent £5.07 billion on education in Scotland, up from £4.95 billion in 2015-16 – a 0.3 per cent increase in real terms (2.5 per cent in cash terms).
  • Of that overall £5.07 billion increase, £610 million was spent on additional support for learning, up from £584 million in 2015-16 – a 2.3 per cent increase in real terms (4.5 per cent in cash terms).

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

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