UNISON members are clear that currently we are not getting it right for children with additional support needs (ASN). Children with additional support needs are now physically in mainstream schools but many are far from mainstreamed into school life. The policy has not been supported with adequate funding for the learning support, healthcare needs and behavioural support that children need. The bulk of their support is provided by classroom assistants. There has not been adequate training, support or appropriate pay for those staff. This guidance will be nothing but kind words without appropriate funding for both the day-to-day delivery of those services and for training and professional development for all the staff working with those children.
The Education and Skills Committee report into Additional Support Needs (ASN) supports UNISON’s belief that Scotland is a long way from meeting its aspirations for children with additional support needs. There are some great strategic and policy papers around supporting children with additional support needs but these have not been matched with adequate funding to enable their implementation or recruitment, training and support for the staff in order to ensure they can deliver the correct support. The draft guidance offers little to help us move from lofty ambition statements to the delivery of a service that meets the needs of children with additional support needs.
Schools are struggling to meet the needs of pupils because of budget cuts. On top of cuts to resources demand is rising, adding additional pressure. Since 2010 the number of pupils with additional support needs has doubled but there are 1841 fewer support staff in local authorities.
Our members are clear that currently we are not getting it right for children with additional support needs. Visions and principles are easy to publish. Delivering the change we all support needs to be appropriate funding for both the day to day delivery of those services and for training and professional development for all the staff working with those children.