Pupils miss out on basics as school spending cut

Schools are struggling to maintain spending on classroom materials such as stationery and books. Picture: Greg Macvean
Schools are struggling to maintain spending on classroom materials such as stationery and books. Picture: Greg Macvean
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PUPILS are missing out on class trips, textbooks and teaching assistants after spending on schools was slashed by £10 million over the past three years, union leaders have claimed.

New data from Audit Scotland shows real-terms expenditure on primary and secondary classrooms in Edinburgh has fallen by just under four per cent from around £253m in 2010-11 to £243m in 2012-13.

Visits to historical and cultural sites, outdoor activities and other educational trips have taken a significant hit, according to teaching union leaders, who said schools were also struggling to maintain spending on stationery, textbooks and other basic class materials.

And they said classroom assistant support was shrivelling so quickly it had become “a joke”.

Declines have been recorded in Mid and East Lothian, where schools saw real-terms investment reduced by 1.4 and 3.6 per cent respectively.

Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary at the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said: “It’s the broad experience of education that’s affected – outdoor education, school trips and so on, which is important as it’s something Education Scotland are going to be looking at.

“It means cutbacks on basic equipment – simple things such as textbooks, stationery. Classroom support from assistants has become a bit of a joke it’s so bad.”

The spending figures are set to have serious implications for the schooling of children in Edinburgh’s most deprived neighbourhoods, he added.

However, city chiefs said they were successfully shielding schools from the full impact of central government funding cuts. Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Despite Scottish Government funding for councils being cut we made a determined effort in last year’s education budget to protect front-line services in our schools.

“The reduction in spending on schools in Edinburgh is less than other Scottish cities such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Last year we had extremely successful exam results in our schools, with 60 per cent of pupils getting a Higher by the end of S6 and the number of school-leavers in Edinburgh achieving and sustaining a positive destination is at its highest rate ever of 91 per cent.”