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Councillors pushes for developer contributions to pay for new special schools in Highland

Two Conservative councillors are to make an attempt to start getting funds in place to increase the number of special school places in the Highlands.

Councillors Andrew Jarvie and Struan Mackie are to table a motion at this week’s Highland Council meeting to start raising funds for a new special school infrastructure.

This would include separate autism provision, which had been considered by the council previously a number of years ago.

There are just 180 special school places available in the Highlands, against a total school roll of 31,000 pupils.

Cllr Jarvie said: "I was delighted to hear that following a discussion I had with the chief executive in January about the shortage of special school places that she commissioned a report to look into it.

"There are a myriad of options for how new special schools could be built, but the most important thing is to start getting the finances in place to allow that.

"I’ve heard so many good stories from parents about how these schools have transformed their children’s lives, but these places are limited.”

Cllr Jarvie believes the move to create more special school places could actually save the local authority money in the long-term by resulting in a reduction in the numbers of children having to be accommodated outwith the region.

"Currently children who need specialist autism education are being sent up to 400 miles away from their families," he said. "While these placements are exactly the support they need, they should not have to be sent to the other side of the country."

The move, as Cllr Jarvie sees it, will be funded through contributions housing developers are required to make to help with the provision of local services.


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