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Council's out-of-hours care could end in Aberdeenshire

By David Porter

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Aberdeenshire Council is proposing to stop all of its out-of-hours school care provision from early July as a budget saving move, a new report shows.

At present just 15 of Aberdeenshire's 146 primary schools provide the service, which is used by a total of 350 children and which the report says is not currently providing equality of service for rural, very rural and areas of social deprivation despite higher populations in some towns including Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Banff where it does not operate.

The authority has blamed a fall in demand as well staffing and budget pressure as despite being set up to recoup costs it is facing an overspend of almost £700,000.

Aberdeenshire Council's education committee will consider the proposals on Thursday which have already seen a massive backlash for parents, especially in the Balmedie catchment area.

Taking to social media, one parent commented: "As parents that rely heavily on this provision in order to work full time, we have significant concerns regarding this proposal.

"We actively chose Balmedie primary school because of the first class OOSC that Emma and the team run.

"We are concerned firstly, about the complete lack of consultation to people that access this provision and lack of recognition of the significant detrimental impact that, if approved, this would have on children's wellbeing and parental capacity to work.

"What cost benefit analysis has taken place of the 349 pupils and families (across the Shire) that will be displaced if this critical provision is withdrawn?

"There is a real local need for OOSC provison within Balmedie of which 20.1 per cent of pupils and families currently or are on the waiting list to access (36 current, plus 46 waiting list with a 2023 school roll of 407)."

The plan to remove the service which is not a statutory requirement for the council was first mooted at the education and children’s services committee meeting in May.

Several councillors including Jenny Nicol were against the removal of out of school care provision and voted that no Aberdeenshire Council out of school care facility be closed until another private, independent or third sector facility has been established to provide places for those children and families who currently attend an Aberdeenshire out of school care facility, but were outvoted.

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