Highland Council has confirmed that it will sustain the current funding for Additional Support Needs in Primary and Secondary Schools for the new school year – 2016/17.
While the Council has taken measures to address a £40m budget gap, it will not require to reduce the funding to schools for children with additional needs.
At the Council’s budget meeting in February, members were told that applications for voluntary redundancy had been received from Pupil Support Assistants, but because these staff were supporting individual children in schools they could not be accepted without further assessment of needs.
The Council has now confirm that while voluntary redundancies have been agreed with managers in Additional Support services, the allocation to schools will continue at the current level, and there will be no reduction in the overall number of Pupil Support Assistants. This is because that further assessment of needs is now complete, and because the Council has already achieved its voluntary redundancy savings target from other staff groups.
There will be some changes in the level of staffing to a number of schools, as the local allocation is adjusted to take account of local needs. The resourcing model ensures that funding is allocated where the need is identified, and therefore additional support in each school can change year on year, as needs within the school also changes.
This means that where need has increased, there will be additional Pupil Support Assistants, and where there has been a proportionate reduction, there will be fewer. The additional funding will be able to assist with transitional arrangements in local areas, assisting some schools where the changes are greatest.
Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “The Council Administration gave a commitment that we would sustain and not reduce the allocation of Additional Support services to schools. I am delighted today, that we can confirm that we will deliver on that commitment – even at this time of significant budget challenge. I know how important these services are to families and communities. There has been a lot of parental concern about the ASN budget, to which we have listened, and I am very pleased to make this announcement.”
Councillor Drew Millar, Chair of the Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, said: “This means that the overall number of Pupil Support Assistants across the authority will be sustained at around 670 posts. In order to meet local needs, we will continue to make adjustments, to ensure that children get the appropriate level of support, while also looking at transitional arrangements in areas that face the greatest challenges. I have been very keen to protect the number of Pupil Support Assistants, and I am pleased that this has been achieved.”