Dumfries and Galloway Labour Council must meet its responsibilities to additional classroom support for children who need it, Scotland’s education boss has told parliament.
John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, was commenting on the decision of the Labour council to further reduce the number of classroom assistants in the region’s schools despite a reported 60% increase in children who need additional support.
He was responding to a question from South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine who has expressed her deep concern at the crisis of additional support across the region.
Ms McAlpine said:
“Learning support is fundamental to ensuring all of our region’s children can access a meaningful education in a safe and nurturing environment. But Dumfries and Galloway Council admits they previously “underestimated” capacity to deliver support when the original cuts were passed by Labour with support from the Tories. One Tory councillor now concedes that “a bad miscalculation has been made by someone somewhere”. These cuts have had a devastating effect which should have been foreseen.”
In his response to the MSP, Mr Swinney stated:
“Under the Additional Support for Learning Act it is for education authorities to identify and provide for the additional support needs of their pupils. Authorities must ensure that they have appropriate resources in place to meet their statutory requirements, including meeting the individual needs of children and young people.”
Ms McAlpine added:
“Mr Swinney has made it perfectly clear that there is a duty upon local authorities to adequately resource additional support provision. The local Labour-led administration in Dumfries and Galloway has plainly failed to meet this basic requirement.
“Incredibly, the council’s leadership are now considering the possibility of a further reduction in additional support. More cuts will completely undermine the remaining provision and destroy those positive relationships that pupils and staff have worked so hard to develop. Local parents know this – and many have told me about the devastating effect of learning support cuts on their children’s development, which is why there has been a consistent and vocal opposition to the council’s approach.”