THE number of teachers employed to provide additional support to pupils in the Capital has plunged by 26 per cent since 2010 – double the drop seen across Scotland as a whole.
Children’s welfare leaders have slammed the decrease, branding it “deeply disturbing”.
And they have warned Edinburgh and Scotland face the prospect of a “lost generation of young people” if the trend is not reversed.
New figures show there were 125 additional support for learning (ASL) teachers in Edinburgh council schools last year – down from 168 in 2010.
West Lothian and East Lothian were hit by falls of a quarter and 18 per cent respectively. The data comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made education one of her top priorities.
Stuart Jacob, a member of the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, said: “The fact that the number of additional support needs [ASN] teachers has fallen by 26 per cent in Edinburgh since 2010, by a quarter in West Lothian and 18 per cent in East Lothian, is deeply disturbing, especially as we are aware that more than one in five of the pupil population have ASN.
“If we are indeed to close the attainment gap and achieve the Scottish Government’s aim of equal opportunity for all, a welcome aspiration, it is this group of children and young people, who disproportionately come from lower income families and areas of deprivation, who desperately need extra attention.
“If we don’t act, we are facing the worrying prospect of a lost generation of young people.”
Conservative MSP Miles Briggs, who tabled the parliamentary question which led to release of the data, said: “It will be of real concern to many parents across Scotland that these numbers have reached a new low.”
City bosses insisted that ASN funding had increased in real terms.
Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “The unfortunate reality is that overall funding to local authorities is being reduced significantly by the Scottish Government, and this is having a real effect on local services.
“However, recognising the significant increased demand for additional support needs in schools it is one of the few services that has had funding increased in real terms.
“We regularly review our services to make sure they adapt to new demands and we will continue to do this to ensure the needs of children with additional support needs are met.”