By Aileen Maclennan
Argyll and Bute Council is investing more than £1.7 million to establish four more dedicated Learning Centres in its schools so that children and young people with more complex Additional Support Needs (ASN) can benefit from tailored high-level support.
The council will also develop Secondary Enhanced Wellbeing Hubs within four mainstream secondary schools to address the growing social and emotional needs of a number of children and young people in a way that keeps them in the heart of their own communities and schools.
Currently, schools in Argyll and Bute support pupils with a wide range of complex needs. With these needs increasing, however, the education service is seeing greater levels of dysregulated behaviour and requests for support from parents and carers.
Dedicated Learning Centres are already in place at some schools in the area but at a meeting of today’s full council, councillors gave the green light to proposals to make access to Learning Centres more equitable across Argyll and Bute.
This decision means that the council will create dedicated primary Learning Centre provision in south Kintyre, cross-sector provision on Mull, and Islay, as well as an additional Learning Centre targeted at secondary learners in Helensburgh and Lomond.
Once up and running, the council will carry out a review of the centres before starting the roll out of the secondary Enhanced Wellbeing Hubs.
The facilities in the centres will be bespoke and many will include accessible teaching spaces, breakout quiet rooms, low stimulus, and high stimulus sensory rooms, appropriate outdoor space, changing facilities with the necessary equipment to meet the physical needs of some children and young people. Learning Centres will also develop curriculum plans to include a wide-range of flexibility to support all learners to achieve their potential.
The council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, pictured left, said: “We want to improve and secure equity of specialist provision for children and young people with ASNs in Argyll and Bute. There are currently gaps in this provision and many pupils have to travel out of the area to access these key services.
“We don’t want this to be the case and that is why we are investing more than £1.7 million to increase the number of dedicated Learning Centres we have here in Argyll and Bute, and introduce four Secondary Enhanced Wellbeing Hubs.
“These new facilities will allow children with complex needs to access a high level of support and an elaborated curriculum with the option of attending mainstream classes as part of their timetable, as appropriate.
“This approach allows an individual and tailored method of inclusion which can be reviewed regularly and adapted to suit the pupil’s needs. Importantly, this method of providing an enhanced provision also allows children to maintain a full lifestyle within their local area and doesn’t require long periods of time travelling to external placements on a daily basis or, in some of the most complex cases, on a residential basis.
“This is an exciting time for our education service and this move is one which I’m certain will be welcomed by children and young people with complex needs and their parents.”