Parents invited to Falkirk classroom talks

Crisis talks over the future of Falkirk schools will take place on March 10
Crisis talks over the future of Falkirk schools will take place on March 10

Mums and dads will meet with councillors next month to hear how tough the financial crisis facing Falkirk schools is – and to look for solutions.

Council leaders will get round the table with members of parent councils from across the district to thrash out a future strategy.

The meeting comes as it appears the proposal to cut primary school hours from 25 to 22.5 a week is not viable as it would leave the local authority open to financial penalties.

Unhappy parents plan to hold a rally in the Helix Park by the Kelpies this Saturday at 1 p.m to show their opposition to the suggestion.

But Councillor Alan Nimmo, the council’s education spokesman, revealed he is meeting with parent council members on March 10 to discuss “the way forward”.

Individual letters are also being sent to all parents of primary school children explaining the current challenges.

However, it is understood the parent council members will hear the option to cut hours is being dropped as the local authority would be ‘fined’ by the Scottish Government for every teacher post it cut.

Mr Nimmo said: “We are having to look at a raft of unpalatable proposals for education and other council services because of underfunding from the SNP government.

“Legally the council has to set a balanced budget, so we need to look at alternatives to plug any gaps. Some proposals may be equally unpalatable, but I want to hear what parents have to say.”

The councillor said he was bitterly disappointed Falkirk would receive no cash from the first £20 million round of funding from the Attainment Scotland Fund.

It is earmarked to help pupils in areas of high deprivation. But the initial funding has been awarded to Glasgow, Dundee, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire and North Lanarkshire.

Mr Nimmo added the Labour-led administration is unhappy that Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney has still to reply to a letter from council leader, Councillor Craig Martin, highlighting Falkirk’s position on teacher numbers and concerns over current and future funding gaps.

This includes the additional £3.3 million cost of teachers pay since 2011/12 and increased teacher pension costs of £1.4 million a year.