Crunch time for Falkirk schools as councillors face tough choices

editorial image

A crucial meeting of the education executive will consider proposals that could see jobs disappear and class sizes go up if they are agreed.

Falkirk Council’s leading SNP group has pledged there will be no compulsory redundancies and no change to the pupil-teacher ratio locally.

But as the consultation process comes to an end, they’re being asked to consider changes that could mean up to 115 FTE (full-time equivalent) posts are cut.

That includes a proposal to reduce teachers across high schools by 34.5 FTE ,

When the education executive meets on Tuesday, councillors will be presented with a range of proposals to help meet a £5.853 million savings target for 2019/20.

They will not make any decisions at the committee but it will inform the decisions taken when the budget is finally agreed by the full council at a meeting in February.

Some specific proposals come from headteachers, who worked together to agree ways to save £1.8 million in primaries and £2.5 million in secondaries.

These include taking teachers out of nurseries and replacing them with graduate professionals; removing discretionary support for schools if they need an additional class; and changing the high school registration system.

High schools would also lose their ability to increase staff to plan for increasing school rolls in the future.

The headteachers also believe, according to the papers councillors have received, that losing more than 10FTE posts will mean no longer being able to offer most Advanced Highers.

The SNP’s education spokesperson Councillor Adanna McCue stressed that nothing had been decided, saying: “It’s the officials’ job to put these proposals on the table. It’s our job to ask how is that going to affect our children, our community, our council.

“We have said that there will be no compulsory redundancies and no change to the pupil-teacher ratio and we are standing by that.”

The education executive will look at responses from parents, worried about the impact the cuts will have on their children’s education. Four Parent Councils and 263 individuals responded to the consultation.

The major worries were larger class sizes, reduction in subject choices at National 5 onwards, potentially shorter school days; and less staff for supervision.

The update report councillors will receive on Tuesday warns: “There can be no doubt the current level of budgets savings ... will have a direct impact on the primary and secondary school sector.”