Cash headache hits again

SCHOOLS and local authorities will be faced with yet another tranche of Scottish Executive cash they must spend midway through the financial year with no guarantees it will be available in the next.

End of the year mop-up funds, running nationally to pound;10 million, are being targeted at the report from the discipline task group, Better Behaviour - Better Learning, with a special emphasis on increased numbers of auxiliary workers and home-school link staff.

Each council has been given its share, although Glasgow emerges top of the list by some distance with pound;1.1 million.

Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, announced the funds on Monday at Holy Rood High School in Edinburgh and made clear the cash had to be spent in this financial year, 2002-2003. Officials later clarified that any subsequent spending on these areas would depend on the outcome of the comprehensive spending review on September 20.

Council bosses, while welcoming additional cash, remain anxious about sustaining spending in the longer term. Guarantees will have to be given to staff that they will be employed beyond the end of the financial year in March.

Secondary heads cautioned last April about the uncertainties of funding. Mike Doig, vice-president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, told MSPs: "We do not know what is coming, when and what it is for. It's not always clear to school managers what funding ties up with which initiative and for how long."

Ms Jamieson said that the cash would top up a similar sum released last December to provide pupil support bases and a further pound;3 million which was provided to review school and local authority policies on discipline and ethos.

Ms Jamieson accepts funds could be diverted to other recommendations in the task group report. She said: "The care and welfare of young people is paramount. We know that teachers work hard to effectively manage the classroom and we will continue to support them in this key role. But the provision of auxiliary staff in schools will complement that role by helping to ensure good behaviour and order between classes, during intervals and at lunchtimes."

Ms Jamieson said the task group's report had highlighted concerns about indiscipline outside the classroom, such as disruption on buses home. Auxiliaries would help to cope with this.

Home-school link workers would work between schools, families and support services to help truants and others who have been excluded from mainstream classes.

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