View Full Version : Partial reprieve for classroom assistants

10-Feb-11, 17:27
Cross party group to review assistance provided in primary school classrooms across the Highlands

The Highland Council has agreed to set up a cross-party working group to review - before this summer - the level of assistance provided in primary school classrooms. In doing so, it agreed to reduce the amount of savings to be taken from classroom assistants in 2011/12 from £883,000 to £319,000. The full year saving will be set at £751,000 rather than £1.47 million.
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Education Culture and Sport Committee, explained that the proposal to cease provision of 344 classroom assistants had generated significant concern amongst teachers, parents and school groups.
He said: “We cannot ignore the large number of representations we have received from throughout the Highlands. Clearly this is a service that is highly regarded by many.
“An early review will be made of assistance in primary school classrooms, with implementation of the recommendations from August, this year. We have identified funds that can cushion the impact of the proposed savings. We remain committed to ensuring that assistance in the classroom is targeted where it is most needed and this will form part of the early view of the service we provide.”The Council also agreed to include a saving of £317,000 in the ECS budget in 2012-13 by withdrawing this funding from the National Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music at Plockton. However, the Council said its aim is to secure the long term future of the Centre and to do so in the most financially efficient and effective way.It is to engage with the Scottish Government, West Highland College and other interests in further discussions to explore how the Centre may play a role in supporting wider potential development in traditional music within the region.

Council revenue budget set for 2011/12 (10/02/11)

The Highland Council has confirmed a freeze on the Council Tax for a fourth year in succession. The tax for 2011-12 is: Band A: £775.33; Band B: £904.56; C: £1,033.78; Band D: £1,163; Band E: £1,421.44; Band F: £1,679.89; Band G: £1,938.33; Band H: £2,326.
It has also confirmed a balanced revenue budget of £598.8 million for 2011-12. Spending includes £235 million on Education Culture and Sport; £23 million on Children and Young People; £106.55 million on Social Work; £62.8 million on Transport Environmental and Community Services; £9.25 million on Housing and Property.The total savings now made and identified by the Council (2010-2013) is £55.763 million, leaving a gap of an estimated £3 million - £4 million to be agreed by February 2012.
Councillor David Alston, Budget Leader, said that as a result of recent budget announcements by the UK and Scottish Governments, the Council faced a 2.5% reduction in grant in the new financial year, equivalent to a cut of about 6% in real terms.
He said: “We have been faced with an enormously difficult situation. I think we have dealt with this as best we can. One just needs to look across Scotland, where many other councils are facing much worse decisions than us today.
“This is because we have prepared a three year budget plan and have been prepared to take some tough decisions. My thanks go to everyone in this Chamber who has been prepared to face up to difficult decisions. We have listened to the public through consultation and protected community centre, swimming pools and leisure centres and grants to voluntary organisations.
“I would like to pay tribute to a number of organisations, which have engaged with the council to agree different ways of doing things in a more cost effective way.”
He said it was inevitable that there would be fewer jobs in the council in future. “By planning ahead, we have a much better chance of managing any reduction in posts through natural turnover we have in our staff.”

The Council also pegged council house rents for 2011-12 to 3% - an average weekly increase of £1.92 per week. The increase will see the average council house rent increasing from £64.15 to £66.07 per week (over 48 weekly charges)