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Highland pupils who need support are suffering following the reduction of additional support needs (ASN) by Highland Council according to the EIS education union

By Gregor White

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Highland Council announced cuts to ASN support in schools earlier this year.
Highland Council announced cuts to ASN support in schools earlier this year.

A survey by the EIS Highland Local Association said the survey on the impact of ASN cutbacks in Highland schools demonstrated a negative impact on all pupils, teaching and learning.

The union said the most common observation among staff who took part in the survey was that the emotional needs of pupils requiring support were not being met.

Teachers reported an increase in frustration, anxiety and stress levels; more frequent disengagement from task; pupils opting for "safe", less challenging activities; and an increased incidence of self-harm.

They also reported having to spend increased time during lessons with pupils who require support, due to reduced ASN staffing.

This led to a reduction in the time available for other pupils in the class, leading to a negative impact on their learning too.

Other key findings included:

94 per cent reported having to undertake additional preparation and correction.

91 per cent of staff had noticed an increase in their workload.

58 per cent of respondents had witnessed an increase in low-level disruption.

27 per cent reported an increase in incidents of violence and aggression.

Alistair Bell, EIS Highland secretary, said: "These responses confirm our grave concerns regarding effects upon both pupils and staff, that were communicated to councillors and officials of Highland Council when the exact impact of the budgetary decision unfolded."

Highland Council revealed in May that 63 full-time equivalent pupil support assistant jobs were to go across the region as part of cost-cutting, though earlier this month it began advertising for 14 new vacancies.

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