Scottish Government urged to review support for vulnerable children

The Scottish Government has been urged to review how local authorities are supporting children and young people with complex and high level needs.

It comes as part of a campaign by an alliance of providers to improve services for vulnerable children and young people.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) cited a decline in the number of children with additional support needs (ASN), such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD, receiving a coordinated support plan (CSP).

A CSP is a legal document requiring services such as education, health and social work to join forces to give a child or young person the support they need.

It provides some guarantees of entitlement to additional resources and legal redress, placing statutory duties on local authorities to review and ensure the provisions contained within it are being met.

While those with ASN come disproportionately from the most deprived neighbourhoods, they have a lower proportion receiving a CSP when compared with those from the least deprived neighbourhoods.

SCSC said this raises concerns that those from deprived communities who are entitled to a CSP are not receiving this legal support.

According to statistics, in Scotland between 2012 and 2018 there has been a decline among those with CSPs from 0.51% to 0.29%.

The SCSC has encouraged the Scottish Government to undertake a review of how CSPs are being implemented by local authorities.

It comes amid concerns the drop in the number of CSPs is due to authorities being more reluctant to provide them than previously.

According to figures published by the Scottish Parliament, there has been a fall in average spend per pupil by local authorities on additional support for learning education from £4,276 in 2012-13 to £3,548 in 2016-17, amounting to £728 per pupil – a 21.9% cut in real terms.

Lynn Bell from Love Learning Scotland, a member of the SCSC, said: “It is clearly of some concern that we are experiencing a decline in the use of CSPs, which is to support those with the most complex needs.

“This is despite an increase in the numbers of those requiring such support and is in contrast with south of the border where the number of those with the equivalent of a CSP is close to 20% for those with special educational needs while in Scotland it is only 1% for those with additional support needs.

“The disparity in those with a CSP between those in the least and most deprived areas is also worrying, as if we are to close the educational gap, it is key that we target the resourcing to achieve those on those in the most deprived communities.

“We are also concerned about the disparities that exist between local authorities on such support, which clearly raises concerns about how such a policy is being implemented and a lack of standardisation of who is identified as having ASN and who get a CSP.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government urgently undertake a review of how CSPs are being implemented by local authorities.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We want all children and young people to receive the support they need to reach their full potential.

“The Additional Support for Learning Act places duties on education authorities to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils.

“The legislation on the use of coordinated support planning is clear.

“To support understanding of the legislation, including the use of non-statutory planning mechanisms, and the extension of rights to children and young people, the statutory guidance on additional support for learning was updated and published in January 2018.”

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