Greens push First Minister to improve Additional Support Needs provision in schools

The dire state of Assistant Support Needs in Scotland’s schools was raised at First Minister’s Questions today, with Patrick Harvie MSP highlighting that there has been a one in seven reduction in ASN teachers and a drop of one in ten ASN assistants.

The Green co-convener also raised how a member of teaching staff in a school in Glasgow had reported being told to watch TV sitcom the Big Bang Theory to gain an understanding of supporting children with Asperger syndrome.

Glasgow MSP, Patrick Harvie said:

“Everyone wants to see the attainment gap close in Scotland, but the reality is that there has been an increase in demand for Additional Support Needs assistance in our Schools. One in four of Scotland’s students are recognised as having some form of additional needs and since 2010, there has been a one in seven reduction in ASN teachers and a one in ten drop in ASN assistants.

“I hope that the First Minister was as shocked as I was to hear that one teacher in Glasgow was reportedly told to watch the Big Bang Theory in order to help pupils with Aspergers Syndrome. I am pleased the First Minister has committed to examining the evidence provided at Thursday’s meeting of the education committee, it’s certainly a shocking indication of the reality facing pupils, parents and professionals and will give her government a good indication of the scale of the task.

“All teachers need an adequate level of training and resources. Thankfully the funding situation for councils is not going to be as bad as first thought because of the budget concession won by the Greens. We know that even deeper ASN cuts were being considered by some councils, and the extra funding means those plans can be shelved in many areas.

“Nevertheless, initial teacher training has been shown to be inadequate, with less training provided to teachers now than what they received 25 years ago and inadequate opportunities for further training throughout their career.”