Still Time for a Rethink on Budget Cuts in Education?

In the last week, Councillors and the Education Directorate have received numerous written representations about the proposed education cuts. This has included communications from Head Teachers and Depute Head Teachers in the City, representatives of the Church, Teacher Unions and parents.

These people and organisations have without exception been registering their grave concerns about the package of savings proposed for our schools in Dundee.

It seems from my mailbox that the Education Convener, Councillor Liz Fordyce, is the only person in Dundee who thinks that the SNP’s programme of £4.1 million cuts will improve education in the city.

One recurring issue from the representations I have received is about the unfairness of the impact of the proposed changes in education. There is concern that about where the impact of these cuts will be hardest felt. It seems likely that it is in the areas of the city with the highest levels of poverty and unemployment that the proposed cuts will bite hardest, especially by reducing the number of teachers in local primary schools.

The Head Teachers and Depute Head Teachers have not only identified their concerns but also have identified their own alternative budget savings including merging smaller primary schools and moving smaller primary schools to share premises with a local secondary school.

I understand that the Administration is currently considering these alternative savings and has not ruled out school closures and mergers. While Labour would not support school closures, I think parents, teachers and members of the Education Committee should be allowed to discuss the Education cuts and potential alternatives before they are adopted in a block at the Budget meeting next week. If that means a delay in the budget process, so be it. I think the public would expect their politicians should leave no stone unturned in finding the least damaging reductions in Education in the city.