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Created: 22 December 2016 | Last Updated: 22 December 2016 | Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version | Make Text Smaller Make Text Larger |

Additional Support Needed - EIS Warns Against Mainstreaming on the Cheap

28 December 2016

The EIS has warned that the principle of mainstreaming is under threat by the continuing cuts to Additional Support Needs (ASN) provision in schools across the county.

The EIS fully supports the principle of educating pupils with additional support requirements in mainstream schools, where this is in the best interests of the individual young person.

However, the EIS is clear that mainstreaming is not a cheap option and requires significant investment in specialist ASN staff to ensure that all young people receive the support they deserve.

The EIS has an active ASN Network. The Network was established by the EIS to allow ASN teachers from all over Scotland to share experiences, discuss common difficulties and promote the work of ASN teachers in the wider educational community.

Increasingly, the Network has been hearing concerns from its members over the cuts to provision and the impact this has on young people in schools across the county.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "Members working with pupils with Additional Support Needs have reported that the current climate is extremely challenging.

"Cuts to ASN teacher numbers have meant these teachers having very high workloads and feeling unable to meet pupils’ needs as they would wish to.

"There is also an under-valuing of ASN teachers’ skills and experience, and the EIS has heard reports that ASN staff are often being used as supply cover - especially as the national difficulty in securing supply teachers has worsened.”

Mr Flanagan added, "Many ASN teachers report feeling under-valued or not fully supported by senior management, for example when violent incidents have occurred being told that ‘it’s part of the job’ and not fully supported to report and deal with pupils’ aggressive and disruptive behaviour.

"We are starting to see ASN roles de-professionalised and assumptions made that this is work that any teacher can do.” 

"The work of ASN teachers can be very rewarding, but it is also difficult and stressful. ASN teachers can experience violence and disruption from pupils, including being bitten, spat on, scratched and grabbed.

"Like the rest of the education sector, ASN teachers feel that the cuts to school budgets, and to teacher numbers  are very problematic. Some EIS ASN Network members have described the current approach as ‘mainstreaming on the cheap’."

Mr Flanagan said, "ASN teachers are reporting a lack of equipment and resources, which makes their day to day work more difficult. Some schools no longer have any one-to-one support for pupils with ASN, or have no specialist services.

"ASN teachers are stressed and struggling due to the cuts and the inclusive educational environment we all support is being stretched to the limit. Those who are making these cuts should be aware of the damage they are causing. We all want to ‘Get it Right for every Child’ but ASN teachers are questioning how this is possible within austerity budgets.”

Growing Concerns over cuts to ASN provision led to a number of resolutions from the 2016 EIS AGM in relation to disruptive and aggressive behaviour, indiscipline problems, the consequences of the presumption of mainstreaming, family learning, closing the attainment gap, teacher shortages, and the reduction in educational psychological services.

The EIS is continuing its work in each of these areas.

More recently, members have raised concerns that the current debate about attainment in Scottish schools and how it relates to pupils with ASN.

It is important that the raising attainment agenda takes account of the types of wider achievement that often are most important to young people with additional needs.