Argyll and Bute Council has withdrawn the option of reducing Additional Support Needs (ASN) assistance in schools by 45% from the on-going Planning Our Future budget consultation.
At a meeting of the full Council on Thursday 26th November, members agreed, instead, to accept savings arising from the application of improved assessment of children’s needs and allocation of ASN assistant hours which will save £175,000 during the academic year 2016 – 2017 and £280,000 in the following year.
The Council previously agreed in October that it would consider the issue of ASN Assistants earlier than the wider budget exercise given the high level of concern being expressed by parents. Reflecting on the ongoing operational review of service, the council agreed to withdraw the option of reducing the number of Additional Support Needs assistants in schools by 45% from the on-going Planning Our Future budget consultation.
Moving that the 45% reduction be removed from the council’s Planning Our Future budget consultation, Policy Lead for Education and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Rory Colville, said, “The Council is committed to providing the best education experience possible for every child. A key part of that commitment identifies the needs of every single child as an individual.
“Additional support is provided to every child or young person who may not otherwise benefit fully from school education, although not every pupil with an additional support need requires a support plan or ASN assistant support. For most pupils, their needs can be met by teaching staff in the classroom.
“We are here today facing difficult choices. However, this has been an important decision, and reflects views which have been given already to the public consultation. The overwhelming majority of views expressed on-line to date disagreed with the option to reduce the Additional Support Needs provision. The Council has listened carefully to those views and they are reflected in the decision reached today.
“The operational savings we have agreed can be achieved while meeting the assessed needs of all current pupils.”
The savings agreed by the Council include streamlining the processes of support allocation, updating the overall policy framework for meeting ASN needs in Argyll and Bute and taking opportunities identified for delivering the service more efficiently.
Over the next five years the Council’s funding is expected to be reduced significantly. Budget estimates show a funding gap of between £21.7 and £26 million, meaning a savings target of around £9 million in both 2016/17 and 2017/18 with further savings in future years. The Planning Our Future consultation is seeking views on a range of options identified as part of the Council’s work to balance its books and bridge its funding gap.
You can read the full report here – bit.ly/1jnBzKj
Notes for editors
At the start of academic year 2015/16, a total of 1,931 pupils in Argyll and Bute had been identified as having an additional support need equating to 18.4% of pupils, slightly below the national average. These figures may change on a daily basis.
Of that number, 940 had a need for Universal Child’s Plan (incorporating around 57 with a coordinated support plan - CSP) reflecting their level of needs and around 570 of that number has an identified need for a level of ASN assistant support.
These figures illustrate that not all pupils with an additional support need require a support plan with their needs being met by teaching staff in the classroom through strategies such as differentiation in learning and teaching strategies. Equally not all pupils with a Universal Child’s Plan has a need for ASN assistant support which reflects an appropriate staged intervention approach.