South Ayrshire sees drop in pupils with ASN in mainstream education

South Ayrshire Council is confident of its procedures for learners with additional support needs
South Ayrshire Council is confident of its procedures for learners with additional support needs

The number of children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) in mainstream education has dropped in South Ayrshire, despite a drive for greater inclusion

There were 1808 pupils with ASN in mainstream primaries last year compared with 1913 recorded in 2012. In secondary education the number of pupils dropped from 1864 in 2012 to 1489 in 2018.

The number of pupils in special schools rose from 88 to 100 in the same time frame.

In comparison, the rest of Scotland has seen a rise in the number of children with ASN in mainstream education.

However, Scottish schools still struggle to support children with additional needs, JPIMedia has learned.

Jack, a pupil support assistant, said: “There seems to be an idealistic vision of schools being wholly inclusive and every individual child’s needs being met.

“Of course ethically and morally that is great but the implementation of that is still paying major catch-up.”

He said children were often placed into segregated systems within schools, adding: “By sticking a kid in a mainstream school but in a segregated department or even an outbuilding at times, all you are doing is displacing the issue.

“You’re not dealing with it and these children are not being fully integrated.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “All children and young people should receive the support they need to reach their learning potential and all teachers provide support to pupils with additional support needs, not just ‘support for learning’ staff.”

The spokesman said councils made decisions about resources, teaching and staff, adding: “New online resources have been created to support school staff and guidance on the presumption to include ASN pupils in mainstream education has been updated.”

A spokesperson for South Ayrshire Council says the number of children with ASN has increased since 2012, but has confidence in their procedures.

They said: “Since 2012, South Ayrshire has seen a steady increase in the percentage of children and young people who have additional support needs. The total number of children and young people in our schools has dropped over the same period.

“Planning for and recording information on additional support needs have changed over time and we are confident that we have robust procedures in place to ensure learners are supported effectively.”