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Study shows boys aged eight twice as likely as girls to need additional support for learning

16 June 2015

New analysis of ScotCen’s ‘Growing up in Scotland’ study shows boys are far more likely than girls to need additional support for learning; at age eight, nearly one in five (18%) boys compared to less than one in ten (8%) girls.

Findings, released today, show that one in every eight (13%) Scottish child aged eight is reported as having an additional support need by their parents. Growing up in Scotland (GUS) is a longitudinal study which tracks the lives of thousands of children and their parents from birth.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2009 places duties on local authorities, and other agencies, to provide additional support where needed to enable any child or young person to benefit from education.

The analysis has been released to provide additional evidence around this year’s Learning Disability Awareness Week.

Wealth and deprivation

Those children from lower income families are more likely to have an additional support need; 17% from the bottom income quintile compared with just 9% from the top income quintile.

Similarly, children living in the most deprived areas are more likely to have an additional support need, 15% compared with 11% living in the least deprived areas.

Reasons why children need additional support

The findings identify a number of reasons why children require additional support needs amongst the 13% of children requiring additional support:

  • 28% have a speech problems
  • 24% have a learning disability
  • 23% have social or behavioural problems
  • 22% have dyslexia
  • 16% have an autistic disorder

Results come from interviews with the parents of 3,685 children and are taken from data collected in 2012 when the children were aged eight. 60% of children were in Primary 3 and 40% in Primary 4.

Paul Bradshaw, Head of Longitudinal Surveys at ScotCen said:

“The findings show that a significant proportion of today’s youngsters are in need of additional support from an early age. The challenges they face are varied, aren’t always straightforward to manage and it’s likely that they’ll have a significant impact on their adult lives, so it’s important that every effort is made to provide this support where possible. The earlier extra support for children’s development is identified and delivered the more likely it is they’ll succeed throughout childhood and into adolescence.”


The analysis and data can be downloaded here

For more information, contact: Jamie Barclay 0131 240 0222/ 0784 180 1266 

Notes to Editors

The Growing up in Scotland survey, carried out by ScotCen Social Research since 2004, a large-scale longitudinal research project aimed at tracking the lives of several cohorts of Scottish children from the early years, through childhood and beyond. Underpinned by a wide-ranging purpose (outlined below), the principal aim of the study is to provide information to support policy-making in Scotland, but it is also intended to be a broader resource that can be drawn on by academics, voluntary sector organisations and other interested parties.