Highlands & Islands

Further protests against Highland Council classroom cuts

Schools protest
Image caption Protestors outside Highland Council's HQ in April

Demonstrations are to be held later this week against changes to additional support needs provision in Highlands classrooms.

Highland Council has begun a three-year "phased approach" to reducing numbers of additional support needs teachers (ASNs) and pupil support assistants.

It said children would continue to get "appropriate levels of support".

But pupils, parents and carers are concerned some children currently receiving support will lose that help.

On Thursday, Highland Action Group for ASN and Education will hold protests outside local authority offices in Inverness, Fort William, Golspie, Ullapool and Wick.

Highland Council has faced opposition since the beginning of the year to its reduction in staff numbers and protests were held by pupils and parents in April.

The local authority wants to reduce its workforce of 1,100 pupil support assistants (PSAs).

It said 50 posts could be cut by not filling current vacancies and jobs due to become vacant by the end of term.

About 11 PSAs are to be offered alternative employment with the council.

The reduction in PSAs forms part of Highland Council's efforts to achieve a saving of £700,000 this year, before further saving over the next two years.

PSAs help teachers to meet pupils' emotional and educational needs in classrooms and in playgrounds.

The local authority has also sought to make savings in its additional support needs (ASN) teacher budget.

The council said it was working with staff, trade unions and parents on how to achieve this area of its redesign of its additional needs support service.

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