In a significant u-turn the council has confirmed that it will reverse a cut in funding Additional Support Needs in primary and secondary schools across the Highlands. This follows a backlash from councillors, parents and teachers, as new funding allocations for individual schools were announced earlier this month.
Whilst this is good news, as the overall budget for this vital support is protected there are still problems with how this is allocated locally. The way the budget is divided up is decided by a complex model, which has operated for several years. At a meeting with education chiefs yesterday I highlighted the problem of some rural schools seeing their funding almost disappear. I questioned whether the allocation model needs reviewing, as I am convinced that it shouldn’t result in sudden, significant decreases in funding, putting pressure on teachers facing a loss of additional support.
I also criticised the lack of notice provided to schools and that Pupil Support Assistants were left in limbo, almost to the end of the term, unsure as to whether they will have a job in the new school year. That’s unacceptable when the council’s budget is decided in February. One reason is the myriad of fixed-term contracts in use. This is having an unacceptable impact on key staff, many who will be women working limited hours already, but who are reliant on this income. At the meeting, I demanded the whole process is brought forward so that individual school budgets are clear before the Easter break each year