Government must fund resources for children with additional support needs

Carol Ball
Carol Ball

The STUC will call on the Scottish Government to provide the funding to properly meet the legal requirement to support children with additional support needs.

It will also call on the government and employers to provide all education professionals with appropriate training to ensure that they meet the needs of pupils with additional support needs.

Seconding the SSTA motion with UNISON’s amendment, Carol Ball called for implementation of the Scottish Government’s Education and Skills Committee paper – ‘How is Additional Support for Learning Working in Practice’ – because: “Well, for most it quite simply is not working”, said Carol.

SSTA research revealed a reduction in staff working with pupil with additional support needs and a UNISON survey of school support staff showed the immense pressures on those working with children with additional support needs due to budget cuts and insufficient resources and training.

Carol told delegates that UNISON took part in the committee’s discussions and focus groups and one of the key issues identified was was the impact of the lack of resources in mainstream education.

Carol said: “Firstly, the additional support needs of a large number of children were not being fully met and this impacts on their education. The second is the impact on other pupils in mainstream education.

“The third is the impact on teaching and support staff in the context of work pressures.”

Carol flagged up a report published the day before that showed there has been an 80 per cent increase in children with autism over the last five years. Carol said that staff “would be lucky if they have had an awareness session on this let alone in depth training.”

“It is 16 years since parliament passed the legislation that introduced the presumption of mainstream education for children with additional support needs. This was about inclusive education based on the premise that there is a benefit to all children when inclusion is properly prepared, well supported and takes place in a positive ethos”, said Carol.

“The reality is that due to cuts in specialist provision, not enough psychologists and speech and language teachers and classroom support roles, the support that is essential is not widely available and therefore inclusion is not properly prepared.”

Carol also called for specialist training which is best done jointly with teachers and support staff.

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