Funding to support children with additional support needs (ASN) has fallen by more than £1000 per pupil since 2012, according to Scottish Government figures.
While the total amount of education funding for children with ASN has risen by £200m over that time, the number of pupils identified as having ASN increased by 97,886.
Across Scotland’s 32 local authorities, the average spend per pupil on extra support for ASN pupils in primary schools, secondary schools and special education facilities dropped from £4276 in 2012 to £3224 in 2020 – a fall of 24.6%.
Spending in cash terms per pupil ranged from £1737 in Edinburgh to £5849 in the Shetland Islands.
Last year there were 215,897 pupils with ASN – almost a third of all children at Scottish schools – up from 118,011 at the start of the 2012 school year.
Meanwhile, the number of full-time equivalent ASN teachers at publicly funded schools fell from 3389 to a record low of 2836, a decrease of 553 teachers.
Commenting on the figures, published in response to a written question to Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition called for more funding.
A spokesman for the group, which represents support providers, said: “It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, especially during and as we come out of the current Covid-19 crisis.
“This is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap as we know that those with ASN disproportionately come from lower income families and areas of deprivation.
“Such a situation is clearly challenging in an environment of austerity and evidence of cuts in spending per pupil with ASN and in the number of specialist teachers supporting this group.
“It is vital that the Scottish Government and local authorities work together to provide the necessary resourcing to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN, who represent some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. “