Royal Blind highlights concern over special teachers numbers

Press Release | 12/12/2017

Royal Blind has today urged the Scottish Government to consider policies which will encourage the recruitment of teachers for pupils with additional needs in light of new figures which show a reduction in the number of special teachers in Scotland’s schools.

In 2016 there were 1869 special teachers, but in 2017 this number had fallen to 1836, a decrease of 33. In 2012 there were 2026 special teachers, nearly 200 more than now. These figures come in the context of rising teacher numbers overall, with the number of teachers rising by over 500.

Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind said: “The Scottish Government will rightly welcome an increase of over 500 teachers, which is a significant achievement.

"However the fall in the number of special teachers is a cause for concern. At Royal Blind we provide education for vision impaired children, including through the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh and supporting mainstream provision as well.

"While we acknowledge the note of caution provided with the statistics that there may be inconsistency between schools and between local authorities in the reporting of special schools and special classes, the trend in special teacher numbers is clear. 

"In addition to the publication of these figures we know from our engagement with schools across the country that there is a shortage of Qualified Teachers of Children and Young People with Visual Impairment and too many pupils are not getting the specialist support they need. 

"A renewed commitment to provision for children with additional needs is required, and we look forward to working with Ministers to ensure that in future years we see an increase in the number of special teachers as we have seen for general teacher numbers today.”