Parents ready to raise bar in fight for more ASN hours

Douglas Ross - bid to delay
Douglas Ross – attempt to delay changes to ASN plans were defeated.

MORAY COUNCIL SHOULD clarify to parents exactly what their plans are for changes to classroom support posts in local primary schools and what they will mean for their children.

That was one view that came from a meeting of parents and local politicians yesterday on the back of a decision by the local authority that will see some schools lose classroom assistant posts this summer.

An action group formed by concerned parents has highlighted the changes in hours being allocated at schools in the region – and have been left furious that despite their concerns and sympathetic noises from the SNP opposition group at Moray Council in particular, the issue was easily voted through at a meeting of the children and young people’s services committee last week.

At the meeting yesterday both local MSP’s Richard Lochhead and Douglas Ross attended – the latter having attempted to delay any changes in classroom assistant posts but gaining the support of only three other councillors in the chamber.

Richard Lochhead told parents that it was “unacceptable” that they would not know what was happening until after the school holidays, demanding that the local authority make it a priority to get information to them. Two schools in particular are expected to be hard hit by a reduction in Additional Support Needs (ASN) hours – Greenwards in Elgin and Hythehill in Lossiemouth.

Douglas Ross meanwhile expressed his disappointment that councillors would not support his bid to have the decision on ASN delayed had not received support. He also pointed to the attitude of some officials and councillors who label campaigners as ‘troublemakers’ – a way of thinking, he said, that needs to change.

Mr Ross suggested that campaigners should continue their own fight to have the Council’s plans delayed, with a petition to the Scottish Government put forward as a route that might be followed.

A petition is now being raised by the campaigners who hope that the Moray public will strongly support their desire for a rethink by the local authority.

Following the meeting Mr Lochhead said that the parents “clearly had momentum behind them”, adding: “These parents are very concerned about what is in store for their children and the council must recognise that families have to be at the heart of any new policy like this.”

A spokesman for Moray Council insisted that parents would be given an opportunity to discuss their concerns with officers in the near future.