Highlands & Islands

Highland pupils 'suffering negative effects' of ASN cuts

Pupil writing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The EIS says the reduction in ASN provision has also affected pupils who do not receive support

Cuts in classroom support staff in Highland schools has had a negative impact on pupils, according to Scotland's largest teaching union.

The EIS said children who require support had suffered "frustration and stress" since a reduction in additional support needs (ASN) teachers.

The union said teachers had also reported an impact on other pupils.

Highland Council said young people were "at the core" of its daily planning and delivery.

The local authority, which started a process of reducing its ASNs earlier this year, said it continued to have one of the highest levels of spending on ASNs in Scotland.

The survey of about 1,800 members by the EIS Highland Local Association received more than 330 responses.

Key findings "clearly demonstrate a negative impact" on all pupils, on teaching and learning, and on teacher workload and wellbeing, the union said.

The "most common observation" was that the emotional needs of pupils requiring support were not being met. Teachers reported an increase in frustration, anxiety and stress levels among these children.

Teachers also reported having to spend increased time during lessons with pupils who require support, due to reduced ASN staffing.

Consequently, there had been a reduction in the time available for other pupils in the class "which had had a negative impact on their learning".

'Tackling inconsistency'

Alistair Bell, EIS Highland secretary, said: "These responses confirm our grave concerns regarding effects upon both pupils and staff that were communicated to councillors and officials of Highland Council when the exact impact of the budgetary decision unfolded."

Highland Council is reducing its numbers of ASNs, and also pupil support assistants, over three years as part of a redesign of classroom support for pupils.

The move will achieve a saving of £700,000 this year, before further saving over the next two years.

The local authority said it had not received the EIS report, or had an opportunity to review how many took part in this survey.

A spokesman said: "The facts remain, however, that Highland continues to have one of the highest levels of resource allocated to ASN in the country.

"We have been tackling inconsistency in allocations in our schools and this has actually led to some schools having been allocated more resource since last year.

"Work is currently under way to review the ASN model of allocation and this is involving staff, parent and pupil groups - and this work will report back in 2020."

He added: "All of our young people remain at the core of our daily planning and delivery."

More on this story