Responding to the Scottish Government announcement of £15m million to recruit 1,000 new classroom assistants to work with children with additional support needs, a spokesperson for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition commented:
“This increase in investment to expand the number of pupil support assistants working in Scotland’s schools is to be greatly welcomed.
“However, what is also vital is boost in the number of ASN teachers, who have seen their numbers slashed over the last few years, as well as specialist support staff.
“Between 2012 and 2018 the number of specialist teachers supporting those with ASN has decreased from 3,840 to 3,437, a decline of 403, representing a new low. 1
“There has also been a fall in the number of specialist support staff in key categories such as behaviour support staff, where the number has dropped by 58 from 2012 (from 180 to 122) and by 43 in the number of educational psychologists (from 411 to 368).
“This fall is against the background of an overall increase by 68.7 per cent since 2012 in the number of pupils identified with ASN, from 118,034 to 199,065 in 2018, 2 representing just over a quarter of all pupils (28.7 per cent).
“Figures reveal that per pupil spend on those with ASN has slumped from £4,276 in 2012/13 to £3,387 in 2017/18. 1 This amounts to a cut of £889 per pupil, representing a 26.1 per cent drop in real terms (20.8 per cent in cash terms).
“It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, which is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap. Any increase in support, which this Scottish Government announcement does, is to be welcomed, but this is clearly challenging in an environment of austerity and evidence of cuts in sspending per pupil with ASN.”