Pupils with additional support needs (ASN) face unacceptable regional variations in diagnosis and support, say members of the NASUWT teachers’ union in Scotland.
The inconsistency in the number of ASN specialists and approaches means children with ASN are not getting the care and help they deserve, the union has warned.
NASUWT members at the union’s annual conference in Scotland, held online this year, also highlighted the growing pressure this is putting on teachers.
NASUWT General Secretary Patrick Roach said it was “unacceptable that many students with additional needs have their life chances compromised and ruined by the failure to put in place adequate and integrated systems that support children and their families, from referral to diagnosis to the provision of a school place that meets their individual needs”.
He added: “Teachers are doing all they can to ensure that these students receive the highest quality education, but they are struggling to meet the increasingly complex needs of students in the absence specialist support and additional staff.”
The union reiterated its concerns about Scottish policy’s approach which enshrines the right of all pupils with ASN to learn in mainstream settings, which they say pupils are lacking in practice because it is underfunded.
Dr Roach said: “It is clear that the funding and systems in place for ASN children do not meet the demand and range of needs. Major reform is needed to ease the pressure on schools and ensure that every child with ASN has their learning, emotional and social needs met, as recommended by the Opinion Morgane.”
Mike Corbett, National Manager of NASUWT Scotland, 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 students with ASN has increased by 89 percent during this time and funding has simply not kept pace.
Mr Corbett added: “The failure to provide an equitable and adequately resourced support system for students with ASN is a national scandal playing out in our classrooms every day.”
Call to action to tackle Islamophobia in schools
The weekend’s NASUWT Scotland conference also called for more action to tackle Islamophobia in Scottish schools, in response to a cross-party parliamentary report from 2021.
The report found that 18% of Scottish Muslims said they had experienced discrimination at school and three-quarters of those who responded said Islamophobia had an impact on Muslims’ educational outcomes.
Dr Roach said: “Including an understanding of Islamophobia in the school curriculum, along with training for all school staff, would help to combat ignorance, intolerance and hatred and help ensure that all young people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, feel safe, welcomed and valued in our schools.
“Education is a building block for the future and is key to fostering positive attitudes among the younger generation where Muslims feel accepted as part of Scottish society and where Islamophobia has no place. .”
A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling hate crime and prejudice, including Islamophobia, in all its forms.
“We are clear that this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated, especially in our schools.
“We expect all schools to develop, implement and regularly update their anti-bullying policies.
“This is backed by respectme, the Scottish anti-bullying service, which works with local authorities, communities and other organisations, and underpinned by the Scottish Government’s national approach to anti-bullying , Respect for All.”