EDUCATION CUTS CONFIRMED
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 March 2010 12:04 Written by Gordon Neish Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:41
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Schools in Dunoon, along with others in Argyll and Bute, are set to see significant cuts in teacher numbers this summer as the council’s budget takes its toll.
English and Mathematics are the secondary subjects to be hit hardest, and the outlook for the authority’s teacher numbers in the coming years is bleak.
Dougie Mackie, Argyll and Bute Secretary for teachers’ union EIS, said: “Thirty teaching posts will go this summer, eight in primary and 22 in secondary.
“This will have a direct impact on teaching and learning in all schools. There will be larger class sizes in all primary and secondary schools.
“In secondary the worst affected areas will be in English and Mathematics, with the recently introduced class maximum of 20 pupils in first and second years classes being reversed back to 33.
“At a time when we are seeking to improve numeracy and literacy we are making more maths and English teachers surplus compared to any other subject.”
Argyll and Bute Council currently employs 548 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) primary teachers and 513 FTE secondary teachers.
A council spokeswoman confirmed the job losses, saying of the decision to return English and Mathematics class sizes to 33: “The figure of 20 is a guidleine only. Because of the challenging budgetary position, Argyll and Bute – in common with many other local authorities – is having to revert to the statutory limit of 33 in 2010/11.”
Asked why cuts are being made in Mathematics and English at a time when there are national initiatives to improve numeracy and literacy, the council spokeswoman said: “Argyll and Bute constantly seeks to improve its numeracy and literacy attainment, and has recorded its best ever 5-14 results in this respect.
“The council will continue to look at all possible ways in which to boost its pupils’ achievements. The first of these is an authority-wide reading initiative for both primaries and secondaries, which will be launched later this month.”
The council say that these job cuts will save it £400k this year as they will be implemented from August. Recurring annual savings will be approximately £600k.
The council’s spokeswoman said that it was too early to say of there would be further education cuts in future years, which she describes as: “…even more challenging.” Mr Mackie, however, said: “What is more the budget figures announced for 2011/12 and 2012/13 mean that matters will get even worse, with our school pupils suffering the cost of the global economic crisis.”
The council’s spokeswoman concluded: “No service area, including education, has been exempt from scrutiny.
“Despite this, the Council has agreed to invest some £501,000 more in pre-school and primary education in 2010/11 than it spent in the current financial year.
“We are extremely proud of the educational standards we have in Argyll and Bute, and of the partnership work between staff, pupils, parents and local communities to ensure that our young people have the best possible chance to reach their full potential.
“The Council is wholly committed to maintaining and improving these standards, despite the tough economic circumstances in which all local authorities now find themselves.
“We will continue to look innovative and exciting ways of boosting attainment and achievement across all schools and all subjects in the years ahead. This will be done in the context of the radical review of each of the authority’s services over the next three years to ensure that it is getting the very best out of every penny it spends.”
The EIS secretary finished by saying: “This country will need a well educated and well trained workforce to get us back on the road to economic growth. Education cuts are not the way forward.”