Thousands of children miss out on extra help at school due to where they live

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Scottish Government census data shows shocking disparity across local authority areas for children with additional support needs

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2nd February 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Whether children with additional support needs (ASN) get the extra help they require at school is dependent on their postcode.

Recently published Scottish Government census data shows a disparity across local authority areas when it comes to identifying pupils with ASN, raising concerns thousands of children and young people may not be getting the full support they are entitled to and need.

The statistics on Scottish schools indicate that while for Scotland as a whole 20.4% of primary school pupils and 24% of secondary school pupils are identified with ASN, there are major disparities across local authorities.

For example almost one in four pupils in Glasgow are recognised as having additional needs, such as those with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, autism and care experience, whereas in neighbouring North Lanarkshire only one in 25 are identified.

We find it worrying that more than four times as many children and young people in Glasgow have ASN compared with North Lanarkshire

In North Ayrshire 26% of pupils are recognised as having additional needs whereas in South Ayrshire only 9% are identified.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) say the figures don’t add up and is calling for stricter guidance on how local authorities identify and record those with ASN.

Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 a statutory duty is placed on local authorities to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils.

However disparities in categorisations of needs such as “looked after children” for example, differs from authority to authority.

The SCSC says that without a consistent and aligned method of recording it is difficult to ascertain if the numbers of categories of those with ASN is increasing, decreasing or staying the same making it difficult to resource and improve.

“As a coalition we find it worrying at these major disparities which indicate, for example, that more than four times as many children and young people in Glasgow have ASN compared with North Lanarkshire,” a spokesperson for the SCSC commented.

“This inconsistency in gathering information on and identifying those with ASN by local authorities requires clearer and comprehensive guidance from the Scottish Government. 

“The Scottish Government must commit to working more closely with local authorities to tackle this and develop a universal method to ensure that better information is recorded so that accurate numbers can be reported. Only then will we truly be able to provide the best support for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people.”