Additional Support Needs failing thousands of young people says Green MSP

The dire state of Additional Support Needs in Scotland’s schools was laid bare at Holyrood’s education committee today, with a Green MSP saying the system is “failing thousands of young people”.

One ASN expert from Glasgow City Council stated that a member of staff had reported being told to watch TV sitcom the Big Bang Theory to gain an understanding of supporting children with Asperger syndrome.

Green MSP Ross Greer says the overall volume and consistency of the evidence submitted in advance to the committee was “notable”. Coming from teachers, unions, parents, academics, charities and others, Greer says there was a clear message from the evidence that the Scottish Government is absolutely not ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’.

Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson, said:

“The current system is failing thousands of young people with Additional Support Needs and almost every issue comes back to budget cuts. It’s shocking to hear that one member of staff working with young persons with Asperger Syndrome was told to watch comedy programme, the Big Bang Theory in order to understand the condition.

“Councils are in a financially weak position to help and it appears that there is a huge inconsistency in their rates of identifying young people with ASN. This must surely be down to budget choices and cuts to councils, but thankfully the £160 million budget concession won by the Greens specifically for council services will prevent the situation getting markedly worse.

“It's simply shocking that one in seven ASN teachers has been cut since 2010, yet the number of pupils with ASN has more than doubled. Better ASN provision is one of the best ways we can close the attainment gap and ensure all children get the best possible education. The Scottish Government needs to recognise the problem, listen to the young people, parents, teachers, unions and experts telling them something is wrong and work to improve teacher training, reduce workload, reverse years of cuts to councils and attract more people into this essential profession.