Investment needed as number of teachers for Scottish children with additional needs plummets

Investment is needed in teachers for youngsters with additional needs, the Scottish Greens have urged, after figures showed the ratio of teachers to pupils has plummeted over the past ten years.

The number of teachers that specialise in additional support have plummeted to their lowest level, while the number of pupils who require additional support has grown to almost quarter of a million.

The number of ASN specialist teachers in Scotland dropped to 2,811 – its lowest ever level – last year, while the number of pupils has risen to 226,838. This makes for a ratio of just one ASN teacher for every 81 pupils with diagnosed additional needs.

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A decade ago, there were 3,524 specialist teachers supporting just 69,587 pupils with ASN – a ratio of one to 20. Since then, policy has moved towards educating more children with additional needs in mainstream schools, rather than in specialist units.

The number of teachers dedicated to helping children with additional needs has plummeted over the past ten years.

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer said: “Some of the worst human rights abuses in Scotland are inflicted on children with complex additional needs, who are left unsupported at school and often traumatised as a result.

"The fault doesn’t lie with their teachers, who put in herculean efforts despite their overwhelming workloads. It is the fault of those who have cut ASN budgets at the same time as demand has skyrocketed.

“Our schools need more staff. They need more learning assistants, more classroom teachers, more counsellors and they urgently need more specialist additional support needs teachers. Scotland’s most vulnerable children deserve nothing less.”

The Scottish Government pointed to its commitment to almost £400 million of new funding over this year and next as part of post-covid education recovery. It said 1,354 extra pupil support assistants were recruited across Scotland this year.

A spokesperson said: “All children and young people should receive the support they need to reach their learning potential and all teachers provide support to pupils with additional support needs, not just 'support for learning' staff. Teacher numbers are at their highest since 2008.

“Councils are responsible for identifying and meeting the additional support needs of their pupils. We provide councils with an additional £15 million each year to further enhance capacity to help meet the individual needs of children and young people."

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