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Pupils with additional support needs (ASN) are facing an unacceptable postcode lottery in receiving diagnosis and support, as a result of the failure to ensure equitable access to specialist services and education across Scotland, members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, have warned today.

Numbers of ASN specialist staff in health and education and approaches to funding for children with additional needs vary considerably across the country, meaning that children with ASN are not uniformly receiving the care and help they deserve.

NASUWT members at the Union’s Scotland Annual Conference have highlighted the increasing strain this is placing on teachers as they seek to plug the gap for pupils.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“Children and young people only get one opportunity at an education. It is unacceptable that many pupils with additional needs are having their life chances undermined and blighted by the failure to put in place adequate and joined-up systems which support children and their families from referral to diagnosis to the provision of a school place which meets their individual needs at all stages of their childhood and adolescence.

“Teachers are doing all they can to make sure these pupils receive the highest quality education, but they are struggling to meet the increasingly complex needs of pupils in the absence of specialist support and additional staffing.

“The NASUWT has long argued that the presumption of mainstream policy, which enshrines the right of all pupils with ASN to learn in mainstream settings, is in practice failing pupils due to the absence of the necessary funding to secure the staffing and resources which are needed if every ASN child is to adequately have their needs met in mainstream education.

“It is plain that the funding and systems in place for ASN children are not keeping up with the demand and range of need. Major reform is needed to alleviate the pressure on schools and to ensure every child with ASN has their learning, emotional and social needs met, as recommended by the Morgan Review.”

Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland National Official, said:

“Figures released last year by the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition showed that children with ASN are receiving £1,000 less per pupil than in 2012. The number of pupils with ASN has increased by 89% during that period and funding has simply failed to keep pace.

“The same study found huge variation in the level of spending in cash terms per pupil across local authorities from £1,737 in Edinburgh to £5,849 in the Shetland Islands.

“The failure to provide an adequately resourced and equitable system of support for pupils with ASN is a national scandal which is playing out in our classrooms every day.” 

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