Rothesay parents’ cuts concern ahead of meeting

Rothesay Joint Campus.

Rothesay Joint Campus.

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The parent council at Rothesay Joint Campus has criticised the lack of clarity and information over suggested cuts to education services in Argyll and Bute.

The parent council has issued a statement ahead of a public meeting, to be held at the Moat Centre tonight (Wednesday, December 16 at 7pm), giving local people the chance to express their views on the 43 suggested savings options in education contained in Argyll and Bute Council’s ‘Planning Our Future’ consultation.

Those options, together with the full-time equivalent (FTE) job losses and savings which would be made if they are implemented in full, include:

* Reducing instrumental instructor provision by 20 per cent (2.6 FTE, saving £99,000)

* 40 per cent reduction in pre-5 resource budgets (6 FTE, saving £553,000)

* Reducing classroom assistants by 20 per cent in primary schools (8 FTE, saving £137,000)

* Reducing classroom assistants by 20 per cent in secondary schools (6.6 FTE, saving £110,000)

* Reducing clerical assistants by 20 per cent in both primary and secondary schools (total 19.2 FTE, total saving £325,000)

* Reducing pupil support assistants by 20 per cent in primary schools (3 FTE, saving £62,000)

* Reducing janitor costs by 20 per cent in both primary and secondary schools (total 10.6 FTE, total saving £192,000)

* Reducing supply teacher costs by 20 per cent in both primary and secondary schools (total saving £173,000)

* Reducing school technician costs (6 FTE, saving £170,000)

* Reducing educational psychology services by 7 per cent (0.6 FTE, saving £37,000)

* Reducing devolved budgets for individual schools by 20 per cent for both primary and secondary schools (total saving £190,000)

* Removing attendance officer posts (4 FTE, saving £68,000)

* Removing secondary school librarians (10 FTE, saving £319,000)

* Withdrawing Early Years third sector grants and services and Early Years Change Fund (total saving £273,000)

* Withdrawing services the council is not required to provide for children under 5 (8 FTE, saving £382,000)

* Increasing fees for non-statutory music tuition by 50 per cent, from £150.80 per school year to £226.20

Other savings not coming from the education service, but with education implications, include the removal of all school crossing patrollers (13.5 FTE, saving £200,000)

In their statement the parent council’s members say: “We do not believe that this is a process that we can engage with fully due to lack of clarity and information. We note that Audit Scotland have recently made severe criticism about this process.

“We are concerned that the proposed cuts will place the council’s apparent strategic direction at odds with commitments to positive outcomes for all our children. e.g. National Literacy Strategy, National Autism Strategy, Getting it Right for Every Child, the Single Outcome Agreement to name a few.

“We believe that many of the proposed cuts would have a very severe and detrimental impact on our children’s education and present real risks for children in areas such as school crossing patrols, educational psychologist, attendance officers, supply cover, speech and language therapy, libraries.

“We are also worried that most of the cuts are targeted at front line, essential services, and have been proposed without full and robust impact assessment information.

“We recognise that the council needs to make very difficult funding decisions, however, as equal partners in ensuring our children get the best life chances possible we need our views to be given serious consideration.”