Scots support teacher figures fall - but more pupils need aid

The number of additional support teachers in Scotland has fallen despite an increase in the proportion of children who need help.
The number of additional support teachers dropped from 3,518 in 2010 to 2,990 in 2016The number of additional support teachers dropped from 3,518 in 2010 to 2,990 in 2016
The number of additional support teachers dropped from 3,518 in 2010 to 2,990 in 2016

Figures to be discussed by Holyrood’s education committee today show the number 
of additional support for learning teachers dropped from 3,518 in 2010 to 2,990 in 2016.

Over the same period the number of children with additional support needs rose from 69,587 (10.3 per cent of all pupils) to 170,329 (24.9 per cent).

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The figures, highlighted by the Scottish Conservatives, were contained in the Scottish Government’s response to a committee’s report published in May.

In the report MSPs found many children with additional support needs were struggling to thrive in Scottish schools due to a lack of staff and support.

Tory early years spokeswoman Michelle Ballantyne MSP said those pupils most in need of help were being “badly let down”.

She said: “Of course much of the increase in pupils with additional learning needs will be down to a better identification of those requiring assistance.

“But that’s no good if the teachers aren’t there to provide that help.

“This is a clear trend, and one the SNP has to explain as matter of urgency.

“The Nationalists keep saying education is their priority, yet these figures suggest that is anything but the case.”

The Scottish Government said spending on additional support needs increased by more than £80 million between 2012 and 2016.

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A spokesman said: “During the same period, the number of pupils recorded as having additional support needs also increased significantly – 
partly due to increases in awareness and recognition, partly as a result of improvements to the way statistics are recorded.

“Importantly, these children and young people have always received support within the system.

“All teachers provide support to children and young people with additional needs and we remain committed to maintaining teacher numbers nationally and ensuring all our pupils receive the necessary level of support.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said: “The reality is that one in four children in Scotland have some kind of additional support need and at present, the education system is simply failing far too many of them - as well as other pupils, their teachers and parents.

“This is quite clearly the result of ten years of budget and staff cuts, including over 500 ASN teachers and hundreds of support staff.

“I’ve been pushing the government on this issue for months now and after the worrying evidence the education committee has received, they need to get on top of it immediately.”