Additional support needs (ASN) services offered by West Dunbartonshire Council have been expanded, creating additional places for pupils who need it in specialist settings. 

Between 2013 and 2023 the trajectory of ASN in West Dunbartonshire has increased from 36.9% to 43.2%.

This has resulted in the availability of an additional 78 new places in specialist settings over the last four years. 

As it stands there are currently 12,226 school pupils in West Dunbartonshire Council schools, of which 5281 have ASN and are supported mainly in mainstream schools. 

Around 241 pupils are supported in the council’s “specialist settings” as they require a more specific learning environment with a small percentage of children and young people with ASN supported by day or residential providers externally. 

Ahead of the transition to the school session 2024/25, The Joint Review Panel (JRP) has considered a significant increase in the numbers of children’s cases to be allocated a specialist place. 

A total of 53 children who had cases heard at the JRP and were identified as having needs which would require additional support when transitioning to primary school, 31 were identified as having the most complex needs and allocated places in specialist settings.

A further group of 13 were identified, who would require enhanced support in mainstream establishments.  In order to provide this enhanced support, a Local Learning Community (LLC) model has been established. 

For session 2024-25, additional staffing capacity and support will be provided to three identified schools; Linnvale, Knoxland and Levenvale, to support the transition and approaches to meeting learners’ needs.

An update was brought before the education committee this week.

Committee member Joanne McLaren said: “What is the capacity like in our specialist settings? Have they maxed it out or is there still capacity?

“I am making an assumption that the joint review panel aren’t influenced in any way by the capacity we have in our specialist setting.

“The preference is for mainstream schooling and the support model that you are moving to. I just wondered what our planning looked like for future years.

“I can see you have increased over the last four years 78 additional places. If it continues on the same trajectory – are we considering another increase in that capacity or additional specialist setting schools?

“I just wondered what the planning looked like for future years.”

Council officer Claire Cusik explained enhanced settings will be full to capacity following the  JRP process.

She said: “Looking forward it depends – we have families and children moving into the area which we don’t expect which perhaps would have ASN that would require support in an enhanced setting.

“At the moment we are confident that we have met the need. We are opening the new Riverside Campus – work has started on that – looking at what we know is needed for our secondary provision moving.

“I wouldn’t say confidently that we wouldn’t need expansion in time but equally I wouldn’t say that we do.”