Scotland's Children's Commissioner has entered the row over proposed learning support cuts in Dumfries and Galloway.
At Dumfries and Galloway Council's budget meeting tomorrow, February 5, the decision on whether to axe 52 learning support jobs in the county will be taken.
But Tam Baillie is concerned by the proposals:
"I am writing to express my concern at proposals currently being considered by Dumfries & Galloway Council. These proposals would, I understand, reduce the number Learning Support Staff employed by the Council by a minimum of 52.8 FTE over the next 3 years.
"Whilst I appreciate that Dumfries & Galloway Council, in common with all Local Authorities, is operating under increasing financial pressures, I am concerned that these current proposals will impact upon the most vulnerable children and young people in Dumfries and Galloway. This includes disabled children and young people, those with caring responsibilities and those requiring more short-term targeted support (e.g. after a bereavement).
"The proposals appear to suggest that ASL provision will be greatly reduced, focused mainly on areas of Multiple Deprivation, and that children and young people will find it much more difficult to access the support they need. For some children these changes may remove their right to participate fully in school life."
He's calling for the decision to be delayed:
"I am aware that the Council is due to make a decision on this proposal on Thursday, 5th February, 2015. I believe, however, that the Council should pause and take stock.
"I would suggest that the Council carry out a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) before any substantive decisions are taken, in order to fully assess the potential impact of these proposals from a children’s rights perspective."
In Cumbria last year, 17 young people were either killed or seriously hurt in a road accident every day.
Road safety isn't part of the national curriculum in England, but it is delivered in schools in Scotland, and the charity Brake has campaigned for a long time for it to be made a priority throughout the UK.
One mother from Carlisle is now using her own time to educate youngsters about road safety.
Kate Walby has been to meet her:
Carlisle second annual Skills Fair is being held in the Sands Centre today.
Hundreds of pupils from around the city will have the opportunity to meet around 90 local employers.
The event , which was organised by local MP John Stevenson, was designed to show young people what careers are available in Cumbria after they leave school.
Matthew Taylor visits the school that has introduced a new way to teach children about the environment.
Kate Walby meets the Year 9 pupils who experienced a careers day set up in the style of speed dating.
A school in Southern Scotland has come up with a novel way of saving energy while teaching pupils about the environment.
St.Michael's in Dumfries has started using a bike to power one of their printers.
The school hopes it will help its pupils, who take turn cycling, learn how much energy is needed to power a single piece of technology.
A local school has held a careers day with a bit of a difference in an effort to make it more fun for those involved.
St.Benedict's School in Whitehaven has set up a classroom full of professionals and given each of its Year 9 pupils ten minutes to grill them on their job.
The structure is similar to that of speed dating.
The school hopes that it will open up the pupils to the possibility of careers that they may never have considered.
Collin Primary School, in Dumfries and Galloway, is closed today, Wednesday 28th, due to heating failure.
It is due to re-open tomorrow at 8am.
Full details of current closures can be found on the Emergency Schools Closure website.
Local MP Michael Moore has described Borders College as ‘the best in Scotland’ following performance data released by the Scottish Funding Council.
The data showed that for 2013-14, the College had:
- the highest student success rate of any college in Scotland for further education
- the second highest rate for higher education students at college
- the highest rate for learners with disabilities
- the highest rate for learners in a second or subsequent year of their course.
Mr Moore has congratulated staff and students alike.
“I want to congratulate the students, the teaching staff and the management at Borders College on their exceptional performance in 2013-14.
“This data from the SFC clearly demonstrates that Borders College is the best in Scotland, with fantastic success rates particularly among disabled students and students in further education."
Dumfries and Galloway Council says that the new system for learning support across the region will be much improved when compared to the current one.
The council plans on giving additional training to current teachers, who will then be in charge of looking after children with additional needs, as well as the rest of the class.
But the teachers' union is concerned that these proposals will only add to what they say is an already overstretched workload:
"The problem is finding the time when that's not normally done by learning support teachers, it's going to have to be done by classroom teachers who are not going to have the time to do all the other duties, particularly with the new courses.
"So we're going to be advising people to stick to their contractual hours."