Council get it wrong

Schools budget is under pressure

Schools budget is under pressure

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Dumfries and Galloway Council’s education department has admitted getting it wrong over their level of communication with the families of schoolchildren with addition learning support needs.

At Wednesday’s meeting of Wigtown Area Committee, Hew Smith, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Integration and Inclusion Manager, explained to elected members that the education officers had gone back to the drawing board to get a more efficient programme of learning support in place that gave clear objectives to the pupils, parents and teachers involved.

The challenge facing the department is finding enough support hours in each school’s curriculum to give one to one support to pupils needing extra help through the council Support Learners Teams and how schools can better allocate the hours needed.

This team replaced the assistant teacher posts in 2014.

Mr Smith said that they had to rethink the system they were using to identify the level of need of the children as the matrix they were using was too broad and this had led to a 60 per cent increase in the number of children falling into the specialist one-to-one support bracket.

He confirmed to members that the new criteria required for extra hours was more defined and therefore gave a more accurate picture and how much support was needed and for how long.

Wigtown West Councillor Grahame Forster commented: “I’m pleased to hear that this plan is the way forward.

“But the parents don’t know what they are expecting. Parents should be aware that ‘Johnny’ is getting ‘X’ amount of hours a week and the teacher should know that too. We need clarity.”

Vice-chairman Jim McColm also berated the council for the lack of coherent information shared with interested parties.

He said: “We need effective communication with the schools, with the parents and with the members of this committee.”

Mr Smith replied: “I take your point about communicating with families. We have got to get that right. There is no effective planning if we are not involving the family.”