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Parents of pupils in Inverness and Nairn fear more cuts in additional support needs (ASN) provision in Highand schools

By Scott Maclennan

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Fears have been raised about ASN provision at Millbank Primary in Nairn and other Highland schools.
Fears have been raised about ASN provision at Millbank Primary in Nairn and other Highland schools.

Fresh fears have been raised about provision for additional support needs (ASN) pupils after worried parents sounded the alarm over possible cuts.

Highland Council confirmed “there may be changes” in provision as it works on a new model to allocate support for pupils.

Cuts to support two years ago triggered a protest at council headquarters by furious parents and pupils.

According to parents and guardians of ASN pupils at Millbank Primary in Nairn they are set to lose at least one ASN teacher and six pupil support assistants (PSAs) at the end of the month.

They fear this will negatively affect children with severe and complex needs.

Similar concerns have been voiced about support at Cauldeen Primary in Inverness, among others.

Parents have now written to local councillors, council chief executive Donna Manson and the officer in charge of education, Nicky Grant, as well as MSP Fergus Ewing to raise their concerns.

Also contacting Courier and Highland News publisher Highland News and Media, they said cuts already implemented had led to “limited support to assist pupils in working towards learning targets”.

Activities have also been curtailed, they said, with “a significant reduction in class trips and outings” including an end to weekly swimming classes.

Related Story – Families at 'crisis point' as protest is held over cuts to additional support needs (ASN) in Highland schools

They stated: “Considering this, it should be obvious that an increase in support staff hours is necessary. However, instead we are faced with further cuts which will have a detrimental effect on our children's safety and wellbeing.

“Reducing the staff in the ASN unit will lead to an unsafe environment where pupils cannot be adequately supervised or supported. It seems unlikely that remaining staff would be able to meet basic needs such as personal care or protection from injury.

“It would be impossible to provide the high level of support required to assist our children in their learning and development.

"The level of education our children would receive would clearly be inadequate and it is hard to see how the principles of Getting It Right For Every Child are being applied to our children in this situation.

“It is our belief that as our children are all level four ASN pupils, all require one to one support and are in an enhanced provision as mainstream school is not suitable for their needs, the level of support they receive should be of the same level as a pupil attending Drummond School [special school for pupils with severe learning difficulties].

“We would like an explanation as to why you think it is acceptable to treat our disabled children with so little regard and to dismiss their support and education needs, based on a comparative of the support received by pupils attending provisions like Drummond School.”

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “The Highland Council is committed in our work to support children with additional support levels (ASL).

“We work in partnership with parents, carers, children and young people to identify and understand their needs and to provide appropriate interventions and resource in line with need.

“There may be changes in the allocation of resource to individual associated school groups or schools which will require some staff to be deployed in other schools in the area according to level of need.

“The underpinning principle in all of our ASL policies is that children and young people are supported to achieve their potential.

“The Highland Council is working to establish a new ASL allocation model which will help to allocate both teaching and pupil support assistants to meet the changing needs of communities across Highland.

“The Council’s Workforce Planning Team review staffing for over 200 schools across the region and staffing decisions made take account a variety of different factors.”

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