Ross hits out at Council additional support needs ‘failure’

Douglas Ross - bid to delay
Douglas Ross – bid to delay ASN support changes was rejected by all but three fellow councillors.

A MOVE TO DELAY allocation of funding for additional support needs in Moray’s schools was defeated on Wednesday despite an admission that parents should have been consulted.

The new three-year formula drawn up by education officers was approved in the face of a growing campaign by parents, angered that the decision will see the loss of ASN support at some schools while it will increase at others.

A motion by Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor and local MSP Douglas Ross sought to delay the implementation of the formula for using the £7.5million budget for a year pending consultations with parents was defeated by 11 votes to four at the children and young people’s services committee.

Now the parents will meet again on Monday to discuss their options with Mr Ross saying after the meeting that their ‘significant concerns’ were justified, adding that it was “downright wrong” that carers and parents were not involved in the process that led to the three-year funding decision.

“Once again the way Moray Council engages with people who use our services has shown to be lacking and that was accepted by councillors and officers,” Mr Ross said after his motion was first seconded by SNP councillor Mike Shand before that was withdrawn, leaving his Tory colleague and Elgin councillor James Allan to second his motion.

Mr Ross added: “There is no doubt that the change in formula for calculating ASN resources will have a huge impact and I think it is just downright wrong that parents and carers were not involved in this process.

“Yes, we all want a fair and equitable policy but we must also ensure that those who need the most support, get it. There are serious concerns with this formula that that will not always be the case.

“As we are about to undertake a major review into ASN I thought now was the wrong time to introduce such a major change. It would have been far better for all involved to delay the implementation of the new formula and discuss it as part of the wider ASN review, unfortunately most councillors today voted to press ahead with these changes.

“They seem to think by offering to meet with parents and discuss the new formula will suddenly allay all their fears. Sadly, I don’t think that will be the case as the losses in ASN support will go ahead regardless.”

The MSP added that the concerns were first brought to his attention during surgeries last week and that was why he took the opportunity to try and delay the implementation of the three-year proposals.

He is, however, encouraging parents to engage with the long-term review of ASN provision in Moray which is due to begin in August.

He said: “I do hope that people engage with the wider ASN review. This is an area of growing need and we have to ensure that we have a policy and funding in place for this.

“It will only work if it meets the aspirations of those who use the service which is why I would encourage them to take part in this consultation.”