Children are missing out on the additional support they need

AS A coalition of leading independent and third sector providers, dealing with those with additional support needs (ASN), we read your report (“Autism rise sparks fears over support in classroom”, News, 4 May) with interest.

Since the statistics highlighting the dramatic increase in those with ASN were released last year we have been running a campaign to raise awareness of this increase and voice our concerns. As highlighted in your article, the dramatic rise in numbers can be attributed to a greater awareness of ASN and the conditions it encompasses as well as “improved recording”.

This improved awareness is to be welcomed, but as a coalition we find the disparities across local authorities increasingly frustrating, meaning that tens of thousands of those with ASN may be missing out on the support they deserve. For example, 5 per cent of those pupils in primary school in North Lanarkshire are recorded as having ASN, compared with 29 per cent in neighbouring Glasgow.

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These greater numbers also lead to an increased pressure being placed on teachers and other professionals in education who deal with those in this category, particularly as the rise is set against a background of council cuts and a decrease in teacher numbers from 52,022 in 2010 to 51,078 in 2013.

The Scottish Government must show leadership and work more closely with local authorities to provide adequate resourcing to address the needs of those with ASN, as well as developing a universal method to ensure that accurate numbers of those in these categories are recorded and the situation tracked annually. Only then will we truly be able to provide the best support for Scotland’s vulnerable young people.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, comprising: Stuart Jacob, Falkland House School; Sophie Pilgrim, Kindred; Tom McGhee, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, Who Cares? Scotland; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations; Sophie Dow, Mindroom