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More drivers and escorts needed for schoolkids

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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More drivers and escorts needed for schoolkids

MORE school transport drivers and escorts are needed in Dumfries and Galloway to assist pupils with additional support needs.

Dumfries and Galloway Council came to this conclusion after its audit, risk and scrutiny committee reviewed the provision of additional support needs school transport across the region.

With one in three youngsters now identified as having additional support needs in class – compared to below one in ten a decade ago – additional resources are required.

Numerous workshops were held in recent months on the transport provision issue and councillors quizzed officers on the finer details of arrangements for school transport for children with additional support needs.

A report was tabled on the matter at the last full council meeting where councillors agreed for the local authority to look into hiring more drivers and escorts for pupils.

Councillor Stephen Thompson, chairman of the audit, scrutiny and risk committee, said: “It should be highlighted that the scrutiny review concluded that the council does have appropriate arrangements in place to support and deliver school transport for children with identified additional support needs, and receives best value through its use of external transport providers.

“However, the committee identified a number of challenges as part of the scrutiny review. Some of these are already being looked into, with ongoing reviews considering safeguarding arrangements and the ASN (additional support needs) school transport delivery model.

“The committee recognised a need for the council to continue to explore options to recruit drivers and escorts to provide additional capacity, and should consider greater use of publicity to attract potential employees.”

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