Cuts ‘an assault on education’

Planned school cuts have been slammed. Picture: Getty
Planned school cuts have been slammed. Picture: Getty
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LEADERS at Scotland’s largest teaching union have slammed a multi-million pound cuts plan for the Capital’s schools as an “assault” on children’s 
education.

Bosses of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Edinburgh branch said budget proposals being weighed up by education chiefs would mean slashing overall spending in the children and families department by around £10.1 million in 2014-15 alone.

The attack comes as the council determines how it will shave £16m from the children and families budget by 2017-18, with around £7.5m affecting schools.

EIS chiefs said the planned savings risked a “negative impact” on “attainment and wider achievement”, the “wellbeing of the most vulnerable children”, “jobs, career and professional development”, and “the capacity to continue to deliver a quality service”.

And they have demanded city leaders instead “clamp down” on energy wastage, re-examine the system of approved supplier lists and work with other councils and the government to overhaul private finance initiative (PFI) debt repayments.

In an official EIS response being considered by city leaders, Edinburgh EIS secretary Alison Thornton said: “The EIS Edinburgh Local Association understands the financial restrictions within which councillors have to operate and make decisions.

“We refute the assertion ‘there is no alternative’ to the proposed cuts to Children and Families. The alternative is clear – creating a city which puts its people, especially its young people, before the profits of energy companies and corporations.”

EIS leaders outlined a series of areas they said would be hit by the cuts. These include a decline in attainment as a result of increasing maths and English class sizes from 20 to 30 in S1-2, increased stress if pupils and staff are forced to travel for Higher and Advanced Higher courses shared between schools, and threats to staff support from a proposed reduction in the number of quality improvement officers.

But education chiefs said they had done everything they could to shield city schools.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Procurement savings are an important part of the council’s overall budget strategy to deliver efficiencies.

“The budget framework assumes significant savings in this area, building on the £16m of procurement savings already delivered over the past three years.

“I would of course be happy to hear how EIS believe energy saving and debt re-profiling could assist in providing further savings.

“The proposed percentage saving for schools is around one per cent, compared with just under four per cent for all of Children and Families.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com