Edinburgh councillors warned that slashing schools funding by £8.2 million funding will be "devastating"

Trade union warns funding cuts will be more expensive to the local authority in the long-term
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Edinburgh’s councillors have been warned that proceeding with cuts to schools could see “well over” 100 children unable to make a successful transition from primary to secondary.

Slashing £8.2m from the city’s education budget was proposed by finance chiefs as part of measures to balance the books – a move which could see transition teachers axed. 

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The council said while being “highly regarded as providing the bridge between cluster primary and secondary schools” the staff “are additional” and “cannot be protected when there are no other options available”. 

However a trade union has said the impact of getting rid of transition teachers would be devastating – and would end up costing the local authority much more in the long-term. 

Alison Murphy, secretary of EIS’ Edinburgh branch, told councillors a high school headteacher had said with “fairly rock solid certainty” that last year 20 of their pupils would not have made a successful transition into high school without the support of transition teachers” with “probably another 20 in the same boat.

Alison Murphy from EIS addressing the finance committeeAlison Murphy from EIS addressing the finance committee
Alison Murphy from EIS addressing the finance committee

“One school, 40 kids. Let’s assume that’s right at the far end, so let’s say in other schools there are only five or six kids; you are still talking about across Edinburgh well over 100 kids who would not be in school without that support. 

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“You must know the long-term costs and implications of that.

“Over 100 kids – and let’s face it, it’s probably a lot more than that – so if next year in August 2024 we have 100 kids who successfully made a transition into secondary school, it’s been worth this effort.”

In response to a backlash to the proposed cut, councillors could choose to use “one-off funding” to delay it until next year when they meet to set the budget this month. 

However in her address to the finance committee on Tuesday (February 6) Ms Murphy said a postponement was “not enough”. 

She said: “We want these cuts removed. 

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“These education cuts will have a massive, devastating and long-term effect on the schools, the staff and most importantly the children of Edinburgh.”

Ms Murphy said of pupils potentially out of school due to the removal of transition teachers “a significant proportion are at much greater risk of ending up in the criminal justice system, ending up in homelessness and ending up with drug addiction”. 

She added: “What is the cost to this council in pounds, shillings and pence of that loss? It dwarves what you are going to save from this cut. 

“Add to that your staff absence which is going to go through the roof, add to that your recruitment crisis for your head teachers; we’re already struggling to recruit and retain head teachers, particularly in our overstretched primary sector. 

“Over the next 12 months we need to work with you, you need to work with officers, we all need to work together to make sure these cuts do not happen because the children of this city need that.”

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