Stop the Cuts to Additional Support Needs Staff, PSAs & ASN Support in the Highlands

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#enoughisenough   #forallourchildren   #hearourvoice
**We are calling on the Scottish Government, Local Councillors, MSPs, MPs & People of the Highlands to use any powers they have to halt the Highland Council's proposed budget cuts to Educational Support Services without a full and transparent Equality Impact Assessment and full consultation with the public, specifically including all official additional needs charities, parent councils and ASN action & support group's who have expressed their interest to the Highland Council in this regard.

Highland Council have suggested that as part of their proposed redesign there will be significant cuts to the number of Additional Support Needs Teachers & Pupil Support Assistants. These cuts will have a devastating impact on children and families in the Highlands. These schools are already struggling with tight budgets and overstretched staff. We have to ensure NO child loses out as a result of council budget cuts - taking money away from any of our schools is wrong. Children are already struggling to get the support they need in school and some of those who need one to one support are not getting it as support staff numbers are cut. Inclusion is a Government policy, yet they are not funding it. This is not inclusion, this is discrimination! The Scottish Government has said education is its priority and it wants to close the attainment gap. Why then does the Scottish Government not increase funding to schools and ring fence that money? They pass responsibility on to the councils. It is not good enough. Children’s life chances are being adversely affected by the cuts in education. It is not sustainable to place children with additional support needs in mainstream schools and then cut their support. Children’s education should be a priority. The Scottish Government has a policy called Getting It Right For Every Child. But they are not implementing that policy. We have to stop these harmful cuts from happening.

As parents and concerned citizens, we must ensure NO child (with or without Additional Support Needs) is left isolated and unsupported.

The Highland Council’s proposed ASN re-design gives no consideration to the human cost of removing support from the classroom. Instead, they have focused on financial summary reports and cost saving measures as justifications for depriving children of the support they need and to which they are entitled.

Far from their stated commitment to Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), the HC is choosing to withhold protection of those roles that are aimed at doing the work to get it right – our valuable, vital specialist ASN teachers and PSAs. Instead of acknowledging and supporting the indispensable role undertaken by PSAs and ASN teachers, they Council has characterised these services as merely “comfort blankets” unnecessary for any child who doesn’t have “significant and complex needs.” With this proposal to remove more and more PSAs and ASNs, year upon year, the HC has shown that they are indifferent to the catastrophic impact on all students of removing PSAs and ASNs from classrooms and schools.

As parents and citizens, we MUST make it clear to the Highland Council that this isn’t good enough. To ensure a strong education and bright future for Highland’s students, our Council must do better. They must show that they know that adequate classroom support is not a want, it is a very real and immediate need for all students.

The Highland Council have stated, out with any context or deeper understanding, that Highland has the highest levels of ASN in Scotland. They have stated that this is evidence, despite lack of context and research, that Highland is inaccurately identifying and, therefore, over-providing ASN and PSA support. They have stated this – with no facts on which to base it - as a justification for decreasing ASN and PSA services.

This is not acceptable.

We are all demonstrating outside Highland Council building's & various locations across the Highlands to show our support for the classroom teachers, ASN teachers, and PSAs who provide critical support to ALL children to allow them to succeed. To ensure all children have the education to which they are entitled, we will stand up for these professionals and all that they do.