There isn't enough single malt Scotch in the world to make these numbers disappear. Special Education is devouring the UK.
By Anne Dachel
(UK) Scotland: 36.7% of students have special needs; up from 34.2% in Dec '22
The increases show no sign of slowing down
Let me update readers on just how quickly things have gone downhill in Scotland.
Here are the official statistics
Scotland: Percentage of students with “additional support needs”
These numbers come out in December, and I hate to think what next year will show.
What if this trend continues?
This should be a national emergency in Scotland. Image what the future will be like.
What if there is a two percent increase every year? By 2030 or even sooner, half of all schoolchildren in Scotland will need additional support.
I went back to look at how these increases were reported by the Scottish media.
Dec 15, 2020, Glasgow Times: Call for more resources in additional support education as pupil numbers rise https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/18945447.call-resources-additional-support-education-pupil-numbers-rise/
THE Scottish Government has been urged to increase funding for children with additional support needs (ASN) as the number of pupils has again increased.
Official statistics show the number of ASN pupils increased from 215,897 to 226,838 between 2019 and 2020, a jump of 1.4%.
The proportion of ASN pupils among the student population has also increased to 32.3% from 30.9%....
According to a report published alongside the statistics, there has been a “marked” increase in the number of ASN pupils since 2010, which can be attributed “in part to continued improvements in recording”.
Scottish Government statistics from 2012, the earliest such figures available, show the number of ASN pupils has almost doubled from 118,034 – a 92.2% increase.
In light of the figures, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) has pushed the Scottish Government to increase its funding for ASN pupils.
A spokesman for the group said: “While it is promising that this increase tells us that more young people with ASN are being identified, it is against a worrying background of damaging cuts to services….
He added: “The cost to society in the long term if adequate resourcing is not provided will far outweigh any potential savings made today.”…
According to experts, the reason the numbers doubled from 2010 to 2020 was due to ‘improvements in recording’ which sounds like greater awareness, a term Americans are quite familiar with. Officials even called that ‘promising.’
Here’s what coverage was like almost exactly two years later.
Dec 13, 2022, Scottish Daily Express: SNP ministers accused of 'shamefully neglecting' Scottish education amid raft of damning figures
Figures released on Tuesday showed the number of pupils with ASN, such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems in 2022 reached a record high of 241,639. The number represents around 34.2 per cent of the pupil population, rising from 118,011 in 2012.
Once again officials wouldn’t acknowledge that there really more children with special needs, just that more are being identified. Once again there were calls for additional funding and more teachers.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of providers of specialist care and education to vulnerable children and young people, also raised concerns. A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “While more children and young people are being identified as having ASN, this is against the increasingly challenging backdrop of a lack of specialist teachers, support staff and the resources needed to support them.
Here is the situation twelve months later.
The press describes a school system where having special needs is to be expected.
Dec 14, 2023, (UK) Glasgow Herald: Children with special needs: they should be the number one priority https://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/23988132.children-special-needs-number-one-priority/
Class photos haven’t changed much. The top row stands, the middle row sits and the front row lines up cross-legged on the floor, just as children have done since Victoria was queen. There’s always someone scowling mutinously, someone beaming and someone with a rictus grin who looks like they’re seconds away from bursting into tears.
Class photos are touching and endearing; they also make childhood appear unchanging from one decade to the next.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
To any Scottish primary school teacher surveying their class photo in 2023, they see not uniformity, but a quite staggering spectrum of need. Perhaps a boy at the back is on the autistic spectrum and a girl at the front too. Three children might be awaiting a dyslexia assessment and one might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Two further children could be wrestling with anxiety and one might have suspected foetal alcohol syndrome. A couple of others could have delayed speech and language.
This scenario might sound far-fetched, but it is in fact just average. Figures published by the Scottish Government this week reveal that the number of children with additional support needs (ASN) has reached a record high of 259,036, or 36.7 per cent of pupils.
The nonstop increase is still attributed to “better identification and recording of needs,” along with vague references to the pandemic and “cost-of-living crisis”
The numbers have doubled in a decade, partly because of better identification and recording of needs, and partly it seems because of the stress, isolation and disruption of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, resulting in more children with social, emotional and behavioural problems. ASN is not on the margins any more – it’s very much the mainstream.
Teachers are leaving the profession
But in tandem with this precipitous rise, the numbers of specialist teachers and other staff to support these children has been falling. Councils have a responsibility to meet children’s needs, but the picture is if anything getting worse. The number of ASN teachers in Scottish schools fell by 681 between 2010 and 2022. Too often, when budgets are tight, ASN teachers and resources are squeezed. It’s not just specialist teachers that are in short supply, but other support staff like educational psychologists and children’s mental health professionals. Teachers report that rising levels of school violence are linked to children’s additional support needs not being met.
There is no mention of reducing the numbers.
But a review of how well councils’ statutory ASN responsibilities were being delivered, published in 2020, noted that it was “overdependent on committed individuals” and “fragmented and inconsistent”. In a letter to this newspaper recently, the independent chair of that review, Angela Morgan, wrote: “The question is not how we make a third of our children fit in with mainstream education, the question is how we change mainstream education to fit the reality of all children’s lives in Scotland.”
This issue impacts on everything that matters in education, including standards, behaviour and the attainment gap. Children from poorer backgrounds are disproportionately represented in the ASN statistics, and children with ASN are less likely to achieve expected standards of literacy and numeracy. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of bodies providing specialist education to vulnerable children, which campaigns tirelessly on this issue, recently said it would be “extremely challenging” to reduce the attainment gap for children with ASN in current circumstances.
One expert on children with ASN I spoke to for this column says he feels bleak about the future, warning that supporting children with ASN is “preventative” and that if they aren’t getting the support they need in childhood, it will create problems that are “twice as big” in 10 years’ time as some of these children struggle in the adult world, for instance with mental health and employment.
Scotland already spends more per pupil on education than other UK nations, but either the money isn’t being spent as effectively as it could be or more is needed….
There was no mention in any of the coverage of future increases. This ever-increasing trend shows no sign of slowing down or reversing. It’s clearly on the upswing, and experts and government officials seem powerless or unwilling to address it.