Learning Assistant Allocation Process
This information relates to the Learning Assistant Allocation process within our Primary and Secondary Schools, Resourced Provision and Specialist Support within Dumfries and Galloway.
As part of our Council's provision of Additional Support we undertake an annual allocation of Learning Assistants. Each year we work to a budget that gives us a weekly allocation of hours, which is then distributed across all our schools and learning environments by using school data and information from education plans about levels of need. We use a 4 staged model of classifying types of additional support needs. We do not allocate hours to individual children. We allocate hours to our schools and the Headteacher then uses the allocation as required.
About the Learning Assistant Allocation Process
The allocation of Non-Teaching Staff in Dumfries and Galloway Council is in line with the key drivers in Scottish Education including The Promise, the Morgan Review and Getting it Right for Every Child. In order to deliver on our commitment to excellence and equity for all children and young people in our schools, the process below will enable us to make fair and transparent decisions to target support where it is needed most. This process will ensure the data we use is moderated and quality assured.
Stages of Intervention
This process is underpinned by our Stages of Intervention. The Staged intervention process provides schools, parents/carers, children and young people and other agencies with a framework to assess, identify, plan and review support for children and young people who have additional support needs. All local authorities have a staged intervention and assessment process in place which enables practitioners to assess and meet pupils' learning needs. Staged intervention:
- Provides a solution-focused approach to meeting needs at the earliest opportunity and with the least intrusive level of intervention.
- Involves the child, parents/carers, school staff and, at some levels, other professionals, all working in partnership to get it right for every child.
- Staged intervention is designed to be flexible and allows for movement between stages depending on progress.
Key features of the Stages of Intervention model in Dumfries & Galloway
- Consistency of approach across schools
- Identification, assessment, plan, record, review
- Flexibility - movement between stages, both up and down
- Meeting needs early & with appropriate level of intervention
- Partnership with pupil & parents/carers
- Clear identification of responsibilities and documentation required
Current Activity in relation to Allocation of Learning Assistants for 2022/23
We are currently undertaking our annual learning assistant staffing exercise, where Learning Assistants are allocated to settings across the region.
The information on what each school requires is based on the levels of need and is provided to us from the schools themselves. We use school data and evidence of Assisted Support for Learning (ASL) planning to apply formula and moderation.
Once we have collated the information and allocated hours to schools, we then undertake the annual staffing exercise. This process requires matching staff against hours allocated to schools and does at times result in Learning Assistants having to move settings, or if there are on temporary contracts those contracts coming to an end. As always, we endeavour to minimise staff moves to ensure as much continuity for colleagues and pupils as possible.
The transfer of non-teaching staff policy has been agreed by our Unions
Resource available for Learning Assistants
The resource available for the 2022/23 term is:
- Budget - £8,729,000
- Weekly Hours - 12,235*
- Full Time Equivalent Staff - 441*
* adjustments required from Summer term spend
We are currently in the process of updating figures for 2023/24. These will be available soon.
Historic Learning Assistant Budgets and Spends
Questions and Answers
How are the decisions made in relation to the allocation of Learning Assistants in our schools?
We allocate Learning Assistants on an annual basis. This is the time of the year when we advise schools of their allocation for next session. We arrive at the number of hours for each school by using the information that the schools have on their children and young people with additional support needs but also information that the Supported Learning Team has. We make the process as fair and transparent as possible by making sure that we moderate the information that is provided to us. We can then make sure there is an equity of provision across the region.
Has the budget for Learning Assistants reduced?
This year, our council has given us enough budget to for over 12,000 hours of learning assistant support a week in our schools, resourced provision and specialist support. We are distributing this for our learners.
This is the most resource we have had for a number of years.
The budget for 2022/23 has increased comparted to 2021/22. The budget this year is the most it has been in five years.
If the budget hasn't reduced, why is there less money than last year?
Last year, we were able to access additional Government funding around COVID recovery which was very helpful in terms of supporting children back into school at such a critical time post the pandemic and lockdowns. However, this was one-year additional funds. We are now looking forwards and planning with the resource that we have for this year.
So if there is more budget available, why are some of our schools seeing differences in allocated hours this year compared to last year?
The allocation is made on a school-by-school basis. Each year needs change. Children's needs change which can mean that they only have a temporary requirement for support, their level of support increases or decreases, and some children will have lifelong e significant needs. We also have children who move between schools - that's not just from nursery to primary and primary to secondary, but children who move to different locations within our region. In these circumstances, their needs remain, and we need to provide support within the new setting. We also have families who arrive in the region that require support for their children and young people.
On an annual basis, levels of need change across our schools and this is the purpose of the annual allocation, to make the necessary adjustments based on what our schools tell us about the level of need for their pupils.
We also have a process in place to be able to make adjustments as circumstances change within our schools throughout the school year.
By the end of the school year, the allocation of hours/learning assistants will look different to the allocation at the start of the year because levels of need change across our schools throughout the year. As such, we are able to adapt our offering to take account of these changes, meeting the needs of children and young people.
Has the allocation in all schools reduced?
No. Some schools have seen their allocation reduce whereas other schools have seen their allocation increase because of the information that we have gathered from schools about levels of need. On the whole, the allocation for next term is more than we have ever had from our council.
If there is more budget, why not more Learning Assistants?
Over 30% of the children and young people within our schools are now identified as having additional support needs. This reflects the position across Scotland.
For most of our children and young people support does not translate into a need for another adult to support them. We have targeted support, shared support and whole class support depending on the specific circumstances.
We develop a plan for each child which takes account of their individual circumstances and identifies how we can best deliver the support that would provide the best outcomes for the child. Based on the allocated budget, there are more learning assistant hours this year. The reduction is the end of the COVID recovery funding from the Scottish Government which was provided to assist with the return to our schools. We have to distribute as required for the coming session. There will always be a contingency to meet any changing needs throughout the school year.