Parents’ concerns at impact of changes

Craig Bennison pictured at Dunscore Primary School
Craig Bennison pictured at Dunscore Primary School

Parents at rural schools near Dumfries fear their children’s education is being undermined by damaging changes.

They warn that primary pupils’ learning experience at Dunscore, Duncow and Moniaive is in real danger of deteriorating due to the removal of classroom assistants and reduction of special needs learning support.

In the case of Dunscore, parents have the added concern of the anticipated loss of a classroom and teacher in the next academic year because of a temporary fall in the school roll.

Dumfries and Galloway constituency MP Alister Jack has added his support and written to residents in Dunscore and surrounding area urging them to make their views known to the education authority.

Mr Jack said: “Our children’s education is vital and I have every sympathy with the parents’ concerns.

“In the case of Dunscore, the removal of a classroom and teacher will have a significant impact and it is particularly galling the school roll fall which triggered the decision is expected to be reversed the following year.”

The MP has met with Craig Bennison, chairman of Dunscore Primary Parent Council, who is also helping co-ordinate the joint-campaign with the two sister schools.

Mr Bennison warned that the changes flew in the face of the Scottish Government’s strategies.

He said: “These cuts are placing some children in a disadvantaged position and with the significant increase in pupils anticipated at Dunscore in 2019/2020, will require a return to three classrooms and equivalent staffing.”

A council spokesperson said: “We continue to work with Headteachers to agree the allocation of Learning Assistants (LA’s). We can advise that additional support needs are not static and these change from year to year and throughout the term as children with complex needs move on and other children’s needs emerge.

“Our schools are staffed according to formula. For example, according to the projected roll for Dunscore next session (46), the application of our staffing formula and teachers’ conditions of service Dunscore Primary School will operate with two classes rather than the current three. Unless there is a significant increase in catchment pupils this will remain for the forthcoming session.

“We will review Dunscore’s school roll again next year as part of our annual process and will staff it according to its requirements.”