§ 12. Mrs. Margaret Ewing
To ask the Secretary. of State for Scotland what specific allocation of funding has been made to regional councils to increase the number and training of learning support teachers in the next academic session; and what was the position in the previous five years.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
I have invited the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to let me have its views on how we can improve learning support for the three Rs.
§ Mrs. Ewing
Does the Minister recall that on at least three occasions in late February and in early March he made public statements to the effect that there would be an increase in learning support funding in the near future? Against the background of a rise in general reading standards does not the Minister think that it would now be appropriate before the start of the next academic year to state clearly what additional funding will be available in a much-needed and much-appreciated service?
§ Mr. Forsyth
As I said to the hon. Lady, I have asked the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to let me have its views on how we can best target resources for learning support. The hon. Lady said that she believed that there has been an improvement in reading standards. We are especially concerned about children who have difficulties with reading, writing and arithmetic, and I am ready to consider the proposals that the convention will make in the context of the proposals for primary testing on which we expect to make an announcement shortly.