Council budget may produce 650,000 boost for primaries finance

HIGHLAND COUNCIL will be asked next week at its budget setting meeting to inject an additional 650,000 into classroom support in primary schools. The recommendation to the full council on Thursday 9 February comes from a cross-party working group, which has been reviewing the role of classroom assistants in primary schools over the past year. The group has completed its remit and has found a way forward which will both support teachers and benefit pupils.
Supported by a task force comprising teachers, parent-council representatives and the trade unions, the working group identified overlaps between the roles of classroom assistants and learning support assistants and has agreed the creation of a new unified post – pupil support assistant - to provide support in schools.
Councillor Drew Millar, Chairman of the working group, said: “We have seen the review as an opportunity to develop a new post of pupil support assistant which will provide a more flexible approach to assisting teachers and supporting pupils and will be better paid. The group has also been clear there is a need to ensure that all pupil support assistants have access to good quality training.”
He stressed that from the outset, the group was clear that the review had to be based on need and that budget issues had to be set to one side to ensure that the group’s proposals could set up a structure which would make a positive impact on our schools and pupils.
He added: “The group was therefore clear that there could be a need for more finance, not less. As a result the council’s administration will recommend that the new budget to be set next week should include 650,000 extra for additional support needs and that the savings from the classroom assistant posts amounting to 750,000 in total should no longer be taken.”
Councillor Millar expressed thanks to the Members of the working group and also to the Task Group for all their efforts in coming up with such an effective solution which would benefit children in Highland schools.
Council Leader Councillor Michael Foxley added: “This is very good news for our schools.”
The Council spends 23 million per year on meeting pupil needs.