A Highland education activist has become the first ever member of the public to hold Highland Council to account at full council meeting.
The council agreed last December to permit public questions at full council, and nine months on, Barbara Irvine of Highland Action Group for ASN and Education took up the opportunity.
She grilled education chairman John Finlayson about where extra Scottish Government funding for education had been allocated by the council.
She said: “John Swinney has announced extra staff as schools re-open, with funding of £50m to be ring-fenced for approximately 850 teachers and around 200 additional support staff.
“Can the Highland Council provide information as to what allocation of those funds they received and also what recruitment has been carried out?”
She also asked about the £60m funding for additional counselling services in schools announced in 2018, and £15m announced a year ago to recruit 1,000 classroom assistants for additional needs children.
Mr Finlayson replied that from the £50m fund Highland Council has received an offer of £2.2m; and this year the council will receive £1m for counselling and around £667,000 towards additional support for learning.
He said: “The council has recruited 14 full time addition teachers and support staff and we are currently collaborating with head teachers to finalise recruitment of 21 addition staffing to support the recovery of education.”
Afterwards, Mrs Irvine admitted to being nervous at having to speak at the virtual meeting.
She said: “But I think it’s a positive move for the public to get to present questions to the councillors and that these obtain answers and are not just fobbed off.”