Prove education in Falkirk is a priority – by funding it, urges Labour

Labour’s education spokesman on Falkirk Council said the lack of funding from the Scottish Government was at the root of the savage cuts.

By Kirsty Paterson
Thursday, 24th January 2019, 12:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 2:04 pm

As councillors on the education executive prepare to consider proposals that could see jobs disappear and class sizes go up, the Labour opposition blamed those in Holyrood for the situation.

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.

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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.

Labour’s Councillor Alan Nimmo said: “Education is a priorty for Scottish Labour and it’s supposed to be a priority for the Scottish Government but they need to prove it by fully funding it.”

“Over the past 11 years, there has been nothing but cuts.

“Falkirk Council has lost £160 million from its budget and over the next five years it will be another £60 million.

“The only thing they have left to cut is staff. It’ll be interesting to see how the SNP try to balance their budget.”

Falkirk’s EIS secretary says the local association will be watching the meeting on Tuesday closely as the cuts could have a huge impact on teachers.

Colin Finlay, of Scotland’s biggest teachers’ union, said: “There is not enough detail here – these are just headline figures and, actually, these proposals don’t even add up to the £5.83 million that is necessary to save.

“It’s hard to see how they are going to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio if the number of staff are going down and school rolls are going up, so we’ll be watching what happens with interest.

“Any job losses will have an impact.

“It’s disappointing to see that cuts to SFLAs [support for learning assistants] are still on the table. If anything, there numbers should be on the rise – the need for support is greater than it has ever been.”