Bute’s three parent councils have invited the island’s Argyll and Bute councillors to a public meeting this coming week over education service cuts.
The members of North Bute, St Andrew’s and the Rothesay Joint Campus parent councils will host the meeting at Rothesay Joint Campus this Tuesday, January 19 at 7pm, and have invited the island’s councillors “to continue the discussions over these matters and to listen to the views of parents and the public”.
The three bodies have also released an updated statement in response to Argyll and Bute Council’s ‘Planning Our Future’ budget consultation, which closed on December 31 and included numerous ‘savings options’ in the authority’s education service.
Details of the options which will be taken forward to the council’s 2016-17 budget will be published on January 28, and considered by the authority’s policy and resources committee a week later and by the full council at its annual budget-setting meeting on February 11.
The parent councils’ statement - an updated version of one first published ahead of a meeting in December called by parents from Rothesay Joint Campus - reads as follows.
“As parent representatives, we are writing to raise our concerns about the council’s consultation ‘Planning Our Future’. In the spirit of collaboration, we are putting forward the following points for the council’s urgent consideration:
“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. [Para 14, 81-84 (Argyll and Bute Best Value Audit 2015)]
“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.
“We would like to point out that learners in Argyll and Bute are already suffering from severe cuts in support provision brought about by the recategorisation of need for all but those with severe disability. This has impacted vulnerable young people and families with a range of needs which require to be supported under current legislation, yet this strategy was implemented without consultation.”