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15 May 2017, 12:40
Many children with additional support needs are struggling to thrive in Scottish schools due to a lack of staff and support, a parliamentary report has found.
Holyrood's Education Committee concluded that some children felt more excluded in a mainstream school than they might have done in a special school due to a lack of resources.
The committee's report highlighted a drop in the number of specialist staff, support services and special school places as being contributing factors.
MSPs heard the concerns of more than 100 parents with some of the experiences recounted described as "harrowing''.
The committee has called on the Scottish Government to carry out a review to look at how widespread these concerns are amid a 153% increase in the number of children with additional support needs in Scotland since 2010.
Ministers are also urged to undertake a review of whether council spend on additional support is in line with the level of need in their area and to look at any cultural barriers in some areas to the policy of inclusion.
Committee convener James Dornan said: "The committee was overwhelmed with the response it got from parents, teachers and those who live and work with children with additional support needs.
"There is still widespread support for the policy of inclusion and we also heard about the positive difference support can make to children.
"But we also heard about what can happen when there is not the staff and support to help those most in need. For example, there is a very real concern that some children feel more excluded in a mainstream school setting than they may have done in a special school.''
In the report, the committee emphasised its support for the effective inclusion of children with additional support needs, but warned that parents often reported having to fight "every step of the way'' to get that support.
MSPs called for more advocacy services in light of the fact that parents from deprived areas were less likely to get the support their children need.
The committee also expressed concern that a lack of support for those with additional needs could impact on the education of other children due to the increased pressure on teachers.