Schoolboy with Down syndrome sitting at a desk

Action urged for vulnerable children

Action has been urged by the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) following a significant reduction in the number of education support plans that are being put in place for those with complex or multiple additional support needs (ASN).

The SCSC is a group of leading specialist care and education providers, that supports vulnerable children and young people, with the reduction in co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) leading to action being required. CSPs are legally binding documents that are prepared by local authorities, with them guaranteeing additional resources and placing duties on authorities to ensure that support is being met.

Previously, the Scottish Government had promised that the number of pupils receiving CSPs would not reduce, however, there has been such a reduction over the course of a decade. In 2013 3,279 pupils were in receipt of a CSP, however, ten years later this number had gone down to only 1,318. This represented a drop of almost 60%, with only 0.5% of pupils with ASN (0.2% of the overall pupil population) being given a support plan.

Co-ordinated support in Scotland

A spokesperson for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition said:

“We are calling for action following figures highlighting a decline in the use of CSPs, which are designed to support those with the most complex needs. This is despite a Scottish Government assurance that they would not decline and against the backdrop of a dramatic increase in the numbers of those with ASN.

“By not providing this legally enforceable provision, many of these vulnerable individuals are being failed and not getting the support they are entitled to. This is of particular significance given the devastating impact of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis. The Scottish Government, local authorities and other agencies need to collaborate to ensure that those requiring a CSP receive it, with the necessary resourcing in place to support this.”

The number of pupils in England who are supported by an education, health and care plan (EHCP) is around 22 times more than those in Scotland, with the figure rising.

Worries around this issue come from the fact that local authorities seem to be hesitant to issue CSPs, with the belief being that they are ‘cumbersome and time-consuming’ however there is a lack of resources that will underpin support for CSP provision. Due to this, the SCSC has called for increases in access to CSPs, with this seeing further collaboration from Scottish Government, local authorities, and other relevant agencies.

 

Image credit: iStock

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