Special schools - Relocation, relocation, mergers?

2nd January 2009 at 00:00

Special needs establishments in Glasgow could be relocated next to secondary schools for the first time, as part of the city's multi-agency review of the sector.

The city is reviewing its staffing levels, accommodation facilities and transport operations for pupils with additional support needs who attend special units or schools. It expects to save around Pounds 1 million as a result of mergers and other efficiencies.

The headteachers of special schools have been asked to propose new staffing structures based on pupil need and the council's staffing formula, which up until now has not been applied to its additional support for learning (ASL) schools.

Gordon Matheson, executive member for education and social renewal, said too many special schools were neither in an acceptable condition nor fit for purpose. Some schools had very small pupil rolls. "A higher proportion of ASL buildings are in poor condition compared to mainstream," he said.

The review of the special needs sector's accommodation, staffing and transport provision follows an audit last year of the additional support needs of 73,000 children in Glasgow, which led to the council reallocating staffing and resources across mainstream early years, primary and secondary schools. The 46 mainstream schools whose staffing allocation exceeds that formula have been told that from this month, they cannot employ supply teachers for absence cover, but must cover absence themselves.

A small number of Glasgow's 40 ASL units and schools have already been relocated alongside early years centres and primary schools - Croftcroighn School being a prime example - but to date this model has not been adopted in a secondary setting.

Mr Matheson said inclusion was a two-way street and there were benefits, socially and educationally, for ASL and mainstream pupils being located next to each other. Any ASL schools relocated to a mainstream campus would remain a separate establishment. However, the council is considering merging ASL units. He said transport arrangements for ASL pupils were being reviewed, prompted by the need to save costs but also because some pupils were having to travel too far - some an hour each way.

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