Additional Support Needs guidance for 4,000 student teachers

Written by: Sam Phipps | Published:

Campaigners have welcomed new guidance for student teachers on how to support pupils with learning difficulties but called for a reversal of specialist staff cuts.

The guide, produced with Edinburgh charity the Salvesen Mindroom Centre, outlines the ways that learning difficulties such as autism or dyslexia affect pupils, and gives teachers practical tips for the classroom.

The professional watchdog, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), has issued the guide – entitled It Takes All Kind of Minds (pictured) – in response to an enquiry by MSPs.

In May student teachers told the Scottish Parliament’s education committee about the lack of training in terms of serving pupils with additional support needs (ASN). One trainee said there was “next to nothing” on classroom behaviour management and “absolutely nothing on ASN”.

The same committee found many areas of Scotland were failing to provide ASN pupils with the support they were entitled to.

A spokesman for the GTCS said: “We listened to the feedback from the education committee and have linked up with the Salvesen Mindroom Centre to provide all 4,000 student teachers with a copy of this guide. It offers helpful advice on understanding learning difficulties and is a practical resource for all teachers, not just students.”

Ross Greer, education spokesman for the Scottish Greens, who has campaigned on the issue, said: “I am glad to see how quickly the GTCS has responded to the evidence the committee gathered, but we need to go much further to address the problems with ASN in our schools. The Greens have consistently raised concerns about provision, including the need for more consistent teacher education and the reversal of cuts which have seen over 500 specialist teachers and hundreds of support staff go.”

Sophie Pilgrim from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition also called for better training and investment.
“This will help to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings around these conditions which affect so many of our children. However, we know that since 2012 the number of pupils with ASN has increased against a backdrop over the same period of a 16 per cent fall in the number of specialist ASN teachers.”

A quarter of pupils in Scotland now require extra support, according to figures published in February.
ASN covers not only learning difficulties such as dyslexia, autism, visual and hearing impairment, language problems and mental health issues. It also includes bereavement, substance misuse and pupils for whom English is a second language or who are carers.

  • You can download the new ASN guide via
  • The Salvesen Mindroom Centre works with the University of Edinburgh and NHS Scotland to lead research into learning difficulties. You can view its related resources at


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