07 December 2023

Changes agreed to Additional Support Needs Enhanced Provision Support

Changes have been agreed to how children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) will have their needs met in Primary 1 and Primary 2. 

The decision, made at the Education and Children’s Services Committee today (Thursday) is set to be more inclusive, allowing the majority of Primary 1 and Primary 2 children to have their needs met within their local school. 

P1 and P2 children with the most significant and complex long-term learning needs will continue to be supported through Community Resource Hubs and freestanding Special Schools, both of which will now be called Complex Needs Provisions. 

Current demand for Enhanced Provision places in primary schools outweighs supply, with increasing numbers of pupils being referred - approximately 39 children each year are referred for an Enhanced Provision place at the nursery to P1 transition stage.

Committee members heard that an increased staffing investment will also be seen in Complex Needs Provisions that are integrated within mainstream schools.  

The current provision includes four freestanding Special Schools: Anna Ritchie, Westfield, St Andrews, and Carronhill, and five within mainstream settings: Aboyne Primary/Academy, Alford Primary/Academy, Ellon Primary/Academy, The Gordon Schools/The Gordon Primary, and Banff Primary/Academy.

P1 and P2 pupils currently accessing Enhanced Provision will not be required to return to their local school, unless it is agreed by parents that this is in their child’s best interests.

Principal Educational Psychologist and Service Manager for Inclusion, Equity and Wellbeing Carron Douglas told the committee: “The Aberdeenshire ASN review has focused on building capacity within schools to meet additional support needs, ensuring that existing specialist provision is targeted at those pupils with the greatest level of need and repurposing existing ASN budgets to maximise reach.

“From August 2024, P1 and P2 pupils will have their needs met within their local school rather than being transferred to an Enhanced Provision school.

"This would mean an average of two to three P1 children per cluster, per year, attending their local mainstream school, rather than going to an Enhanced Provision School.”

Outreach support will see each school cluster having additional Pupil Support Assistant (PSA) time. These extra hours will be ringfenced to provide direct targeted support for P1 and P2 pupils who may previously have been transported to an Enhanced Provision school. 

An Enhanced Provision Outreach Practitioner post will be created within each cluster to provide advice and support to mainstream primary schools, with a particular emphasis on early stages. 

The practitioner will also further develop the knowledge and understanding of mainstream staff to better support a wide range of children with additional support needs, not just the pupils whose needs would previously have been met through a place at an Enhanced Provision school.  

Schools will be supported to implement whole-school inclusive approaches to meet the needs of pupils with particular profiles of need, for example autism, dyslexia, speech, language and communication difficulties, and adverse childhood experiences.

A comprehensive ASN professional learning programme is also being rolled out to establish a consistent knowledge and skills baseline across the education workforce.

Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Education and Children’s Services Committee Cllr David Keating said “This new outreach approach will benefit more children than would be the case through taking a limited number of children from their local schools and transporting them to an Enhanced Provision school. 

“With the revised model, these children will be supported within their mainstream setting with outreach support from the Enhanced Provision school.

“This isn’t a cost-saving exercise as there is no change to the budgets nor will the number of Enhanced Provision places be reduced – our aim is to move to a more inclusive model of support for all pupils in the early years whilst retaining the option of targeted Enhanced Provision places from Primary 3 onwards for those who will benefit most.”