More teachers drafted in to cope with assisted support need pupils

There will be an increase in provision for assisted support needs in Falkirk's classrooms
There will be an increase in provision for assisted support needs in Falkirk's classrooms

Education bosses have agreed to employ more teachers after the summer holidays to cope with an influx of pupils with assisted support needs.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s education committee today, members backed a plan to hire four full-time teachers and eight support for learning assistants in order to meet the needs of 19 children who will be starting school in the area after the summer holidays.

The total cost of hiring the additional staff will be an estimated £175,000 and will be met by the 2016/17 Children’s Services budget.

Plans also include relocating an existing modular classroom, which had been used for the Mariner Support Service at Weedinghall, Polmont, to Maddiston Primary School so it can be utilised by up to six ASN pupils.

The council are also going to undertake internal alterations within three existing classrooms at Carrongrange School in Larbert at a cost of around £100,000 to create ASN adaptations.

If the council does not increase its ASN capacity to meet the needs of these 19 children it would face the prospect of having to provide their educational needs within an external placement at an estimated cost of £50,000 per year for each pupil.

Councillor David Alexander said: “It’s good to see we are improving the choices available through this expansion. Obviously we want to have as many of our children educated as close to their homes as possible and we don’t want budgetary considerations to come before children’s needs.

“I hope the needs of the children are primary in this.”

Councillor Linda Gow said she knew of parents of an ASN child who was moving into primary one in August and they still did not know what school the youngster would be attending.

After members agreed the proposals, education officers said they would now communicate them to the parents of the children concerned and then come back to the committee with a further report.

Councillor Tom Coleman said the exercise of informing parents of the plans should be carried out with great sensitivity.

Members heard it is often the equipment that comes along with ASN pupils which limits the places where they can be taught and specialist equipment needs like this must be taken into account when it comes to calculating accommodations.