A Kilwinning mum has hit out at the council over cuts to her son’s support in school.

Eleven-year-old Cael Cunninghame was diagnosed with autism in primary three and mum Sine says the great support from his classroom assistant at St Winning’s has been vital.

Cael experiences severe anxiety when his routines change and Sine says his classroom assistant losing her position will have a harmful effect on Cael’s education, as well as pupils throughout North Ayrshire.

Sine Cunningham said: “St Winning’s has lost two classroom assistants so they’ve only got one for the full school, and I know that’s an ongoing problem throughout all the schools.

“He needs one-to-one support. A lot of his problem is to do with concentration, he needs to be prompted all the time to be on task.

“Before in primary three when he was diagnosed he was given 15 hours support, but over the years it’s just dwindled away.

“It all boils down to North Ayrshire Council. The school can only give him what they’re giving them.

“Last year he had a classroom assistant taking a group of five children and he was coming on leaps and bounds and comfortable working in this wee small group, but now she’s lost her job.

“With autism it takes Cael a wee while to build up a relationship with somebody, and him and his classroom assistant had a great relationship, and I think this has encouraged him to learn more.”

“It’s totally ridiculous that you’ve got to fight to try and get your wean a bit of support.

Sine took her concerns to her Councillor Scott Davidson, who asked the administration how many positions were being cut this year at last weeks full council meeting last Wednesday.

Cabinet Member for Education John Bell said: “A reduction of 58.51 Grade 4 posts have resulted from the introduction of the new allocation model and the necessity to balance the budget.

“Some schools have chosen to use some of their devolved Pupil Equity Fund to purchase temporary classroom support in addition to their allocation in order to focus on raising attainment and achievement in their schools.

“Other schools have chosen to use these funds differently. This will result in a net loss of 31.36 FTE across 59 establishments which equates to 0.53 FTE per establishment. These figures do not include an additional 123 FTE grade 5 posts which remain intact and unaffected by the review. These staff work with our children and young people with the most complex additional support needs.”

Sine Cunningham, who was in attendance said: “I went into that council meeting, what a shambles that was. They spend more time slagging each other.

“They were making faces, being snidey and laughing when addressing the question.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “Improving attainment and doing the very best for all North Ayrshire’s pupils is at the heart of every decision we make as a council.

“We have shown our absolute commitment to pupils that have additional support needs by committing to a new purpose-built £25 million Additional Support Needs facility which we expect to open by 2020.

“We also have a range of specialist support services including: Primary and Secondary Autism Bases; a Primary Hearing Impairment Unit and reciprocal arrangements for young people of secondary school age with a hearing impairment to access a similar specialist resource; units for children with Global Learning Delay, as well as two units for children with social and emotional difficulties. North Ayrshire is also a ‘Nurturing’ Education Authority.

“Every school provides a nurturing educational experience that compliments the 15 established and five planned new nurture bases across the primary estate.

“In addition, secondary schools are developing specialist nurture approaches.

“The authority has schools counselling in each secondary school as well as ‘Place 2 Be’ providing specialist well-being support in six primary schools.

“Councillor John Bell, our Cabinet Portfolio holder for Education and Employment, would be keen to meet the family of the 11-year-old to discuss any concerns they may have.

The spokesperson added: “It’s no secret that these are difficult financial times and challenging decisions have to been made.

“We set up the Children and Young People Support Review Board last year to review the range of universal and specialist support that is available to children and young people across North Ayrshire and how we could best maximise our available resources.

“The role of classroom assistants was considered as part of this wide-ranging review. We now hope their focus will be entirely on supporting children and young people and it is up to us to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake their role.

“While this review has led to a reduction of the number of classroom assistants we need across our 59 schools, all staff displaced will be offered additional training which has the potential to lead to new, better-paid opportunities within the ASN or Early Years Sector.

“Individual schools are able to use the Pupil Equity Fund to provide temporary classroom or teaching cover if they feel it is necessary.

“All staff will be given full updates on our plans as they progress.”