Postcode lottery is another blow for SEN

9th January 2009 at 00:00

I was interested to note from your report that the number of co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) is only around a fifth of the level expected when the new legislation on additional support needs was being drawn up (TESS, December 1926).

Unbelievably, your report also discloses that figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request by Rhona Brankin, Labour's education spokesperson, reveal that 2,536 young people - only one in 15 - with additional needs has a CSP, which is around a quarter of the number who had a record of needs under the previous dispensation.

The clear discrepancies in these statistics are concerning. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, since many children with additional support needs do not even have an individualised education programme (IEP).

A teacher survey we published last month indicated that one in six (17 per cent) children in Scottish schools has a recognised learning difficulty. This finding is further reinforced by these latest statistics. Our policy agenda, launched to coincide with our survey results, called for proper training to help teachers identify and support pupils with learning difficulties. Interestingly, your report indicates that 22 of the 25 councils which responded under Freedom of Information reported that there is no additional funding available to provide specialist training for teachers dealing with those children who have additional support needs.

The result is a postcode lottery in support for children with learning difficulties. Too often, parents are having to fight through tribunals to get their child properly identified and supported when access to an appropriate curriculum which meets their individual needs should be a matter of course.

The Scottish Government, authorities, health bodies and other key interest groups and organisations must work together and provide the investment required to ensure those with learning difficulties get the support they deserve. Without it, we risk sleepwalking into the biggest public healthcare crisis of our time.

Sophie Dow, founder, Mindroom, Musselburgh.

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