Protestors to rally against pupil support cuts outside Fort William headquarters

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Protests against changes to additional support needs (ASN) provision in Highland classrooms will take place on Thursday June 27 as councillors meet for the final time before the summer recess.

The Highland Action Group (HAG) for ASN and Education is staging peaceful demonstrations at multiple locations throughout the Highlands, including Fort William, on Thursday.

Highland Council has begun a three-year project to reduce numbers of additional support needs teachers and pupil support assistants (PSA) as part of its efforts to save £700,000 in the current financial year.

The Lochaber Times understands Lochaber and some schools on Skye will see a handful of their primary schools affected by the non-filling of PSA vacancies as part of moves to axe 63 full-time equivalent jobs in Highland schools.

The demonstrations are aimed to show support for the ASN teachers and PSAs who provide critical support to vulnerable children, according to HAG representative Carrie Watts.

She said: ‘The Highland Council has shown it is indifferent to the catastrophic impact on all students with the current proposal of removing more and more ASN teachers and PSAs from the classrooms and schools
each year. These staff members provide stability, learning support, emotional support and encouragement to vulnerable children, allowing classroom teachers to focus on the whole class. Without them, many students will be unable to cope in the school environment.’

HAG says it is up to the families and community of the Highlands to come together to ‘ensure a safe and enriched learning environment for ASN and streamlined students’.

The protest outside the council’s Charles Kennedy Building in Fort William will take place from 11am to 2pm.