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Bid to cut special needs bill

Glasgow has given notice that it intends to rein back the costs of educating special needs pupils. The city provides 40 per cent of special needs places in the former Strathclyde Region and fears its income could fall as neighbouring councils develop their own services.

The region's 12 successor authorities have agreed to charge an average of Pounds 10,500 for each pupil from outwith their own areas during an interim two-year period.

But a report approved by councillors last week warned: "It will be critical to guard against continuing to provide a high-cost service, for example in communication disorder, to neighbouring authorities at an average fee which does not reflect the true cost of provision."

The report acknowledges: "The current budgetary position will, of course, have a fundamental bearing on the feasibility and pace of change and development. "

Councillors agreed last week that there was an "urgent need" to step up provision for two groups, principally for financial reasons: secondary pupils with communication disorders and young people with behavioural problems.

Glasgow will have to send four pupils with language difficulties to Cumbernauld High in North Lanarkshire next session at a cost of Pounds 42,000. Behavioural problems incurred "vast expenditure" where pupils were educated elsewhere, sometimes in England.

* The Scottish Office has launched a training package for teachers on how to develop individualised educational programmes for pupils with special needs. It is aimed at staff in mainstream as well as special schools and was developed by Northern College.

* The important role of auxiliaries in integrating special needs pupils into schools was recognised last week when 81 assistants from the former Lothian Region became the first in Scotland to gain a new Scotvec qualification.

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