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The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest union for teachers and lecturers, has highlighted the significant impact of long term cuts to Further Education funding on Additional Support Needs (ASN) provision in Scotland’s colleges. The EIS submitted Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to each college in Scotland asking key questions regarding each institution’s ASN provision. The results show a significant decline, nationally, in the level of support available to students with ASN in Scotland’s FE colleges – with significant regional differences in provision.
 

 EIS-FELA (Further Education Lecturers’ Association) President John Kelly said, “The results of this national survey of ASN provision in Scotland’s colleges clearly indicate a significant decline in ASN provision for students since the Government began implemented funding cuts for FE colleges four years ago. The evidence from this EIS-FELA survey shows that it is the students who both require and deserve specialist additional support that are suffering the deepest and most damaging consequences of funding cuts. Continued funding cuts have led to a systematic reduction in ASN activity and a reduction in total college capacity to support ASN students – the most vulnerable students in society. The sad truth is that cuts to ASN provision make it far more difficult, if not impossible, for many of these learners to access education at all.”

 

 He added, “The Survey also identifies an alarming range in the amount of ASN provision different FE regions provide, which raises serious equality concerns. For example, Dundee College had 699 DPG18 (ASN) students in 2012-13 whilst Aberdeen College had 240, despite being a much larger college. In the same year; West Lothian College, Aberdeen College and Anniesland College all delivered similar amounts of DPG18 ASN activity despite significant differences in their size and geographic footprint. ASN provision is erratic and it would seem purely historical, with no nationwide planning, that the levels of support ASN students receive is dependant mainly on where they live. For Learners with ASN, potentially having to travel to an institution in another part of the country can present a significant barrier to their access to education.”

People from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities are less likely to get a service than people from a White Scottish background. 

While the census shows that that BME people make up 5.2% of the Scottish population, the national database on learning disability, ESAY show only 1.24% of people with learning disabilities are from a BME background. 

There are some wide regional variations.Table about proportion of people with a learning disability from a BME background

 Many BME communities are well established in Scotland and are likely to have a similar incidence of learning disability in the population.  As a result  there has been a lack of clarity about what is going on.  Fortunately  a recent report from the Action Group on their work with people with learning disabilities has helped to provide some explanations. 

BEMAS Transitions has worked with 50 young adults and their families since 2011. This is one of the largest projects of its kind in Scotland.  The project was to help young people to set goals and to try and make them happen.  In so doing, they would learn more about the barriers that people from BME communities face.

What they found makes worrying reading.  Among the key barriers the project found were:

Lack of Access to Information and Support - Almost all disabled people and their families have a problem knowing what services and supports are available.  This is made worse for people from BME communities.  Some have English as a second language.  Others have come from another country with very different social infrastructure systems and different terminology.  Previous experiences of discrimination when using other services has made others  fearful of dealing with a new organisation.

Our May newsletter has just been published.  You can download a hard copy of it by clicking here or you can listen to a copy of it by clicking it here or you can right click to download and listen later.   

Each of the articles are available on line if you want to read them that way.  

The lead article is titled "abuse and illegal restraint in Dundee".  This is a shocking story of allegations of abuse of children with special needs in Kingspark school in Dundee.  After 4 years there are still police investigations under way into what has been happening at this school.   We think there are a number of lessons to be learned on the national school.  

The second article is looking at some of the problems that have been developing with Personal Independence Payment.  There is also a hint that the DWP is starting to be more restrictive in the assessment and management of applications.  You can read the article here. 

Our final article is on our Independence Referendum workshops.  These have been very popular and our 35 workshops have been attended by over 500 people with learning disabilities.  You can find out what questions they wanted answered and what the result of our Opinion Poll were.  

 

Kingspark School  - What is going on                   
                   
  2Q 2011 3Q 2011 4Q 2011 1Q 2012 2Q 2012 3Q 2012 4Q 2012 1Q 2013 2Q 2013
Dundee Primary Schools 4 96 63 128 40 74 86 98 55
Dundee Secondary Schools 33 31 17 14 10 15 16 23 15
Kingspark School 182 40 93 224 136 151 505 745 300
                   
                   
                   
Teaching Staff Only 2Q 2011 3Q 2011 4Q 2011 1Q 2012 2Q 2012 3Q 2012 4Q 2012 1Q 2013 2Q 2013
Dundee Primary Schools 21 35 21 63 29 33 51 45 37
Dundee Secondary Schools 11 29 15 11 10 13 9 22 14
Kingspark School 19 11 14 62 68 25 61 72 43
                   
                   
                   
Support Staff Only 2Q 2011 3Q 2011 4Q 2011 1Q 2012 2Q 2012 3Q 2012 4Q 2012 1Q 2013 2Q 2013
Dundee Primary Schools 11 61 42 63 11 41 35 53 18
Dundee Secondary Schools 2 2 2 3 0 2 7 1 1
Kingspark School 163 29 79 162 68 126 444 673 257

Kingspark School in Dundee opened in 2009 but very quickly concerns emerged.    By 2013, there were 20% more pupils in the school that had been planned. By 2014, it was nearly 140% more – 175 instead of 125. 

In 2010 a new electronic recording system encouraged school staff to see themselves as the victims of attacks by school pupils even where there was no malicious intent such as a child having an epileptic fit whose involuntary hand movements touched a member of staff. 

Recorded “violent” incidents grew from 100 in 09-10 to over 1,000 in the first 6 months of 2013.  But no one seems to have asked what was happening. 

Meanwhile allegations were being made that a small but significant number of children were being illegally restrained or subject to physical abuse. 

One 12 year old child was restrained on the ground  by four teaching and support staff. Bruising and blood spots on his chest indicated that he had been held face down in  what is an illegal hold.   The incident was repeated on two subsequent days.  His mother said “Four teachers held my small epileptic child on the floor till he passed our and urinated. Then they let him go!”