Save 32 Dundee teacher posts, say Liberal Democrat councillors

17 Mar 2024
school

Following confirmation that local government in Scotland will receive additional funding as a result of the UK budget on 6th March, the Dundee Liberal Democrat council group has today said there is now “absolutely no reason” to go ahead with axing the 32 Dundee teacher posts that the SNP administration pushed through at the Dundee council budget meeting on 29th February.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the council, Councillor Fraser Macpherson said :

“We really question how sensible the teaching cuts are, not just academically but also because there is absolutely no need to go ahead with the cut given the additional local government support following the UK budget.”

“At the council’s own budget meeting on 29th February, the Liberal Democrat proposals would have saved the 32 teaching posts but the SNP administration voted this down 15-12.”

“Under pressure from COSLA following a really poor local government budget settlement, the SNP government announced an extra £62.7m funding for local government, subject to Barnett Consequentials from the UK budget. Based on Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE) calculations and projections, Dundee City Council is likely to receive somewhere around £1.7 million it was not expecting and does not figure in any group’s budget calculations.”

“I have now had confirmation that this extra funding has now been advised to COSLA as definitely being distributed to local councils across Scotland.”     

The council’s Executive Director of Corporate Services Robert Emmott told Councillor Macpherson:

“COSLA received a letter from the Deputy First Minister last Thursday indicating that the £62.7m would be made available on a recurring basis to councils that freeze their Council Tax.”

“We don’t yet have any detail on what our share will be, but I anticipate that this will be determined in the usual way through the Settlement and Distribution Group and then COSLA Leaders.”

Councillor Macpherson added:

“As things stand, this money will simply be added to the council’s general reserve bringing it to somewhere not far short of £12 million. This would be perverse as the minimum level of reserve recommended by finance officers is £8 million. Why on earth would the council axe 32 teaching posts to save £1.9 million when it now has most of the funding to save them? We hope the SNP administration will now do the right thing and save these posts and not just stick the new funds into reserves.”

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Councillor Craig Duncan added :

“Our budget amendment included the necessary funding to save the 28 full time equivalent (FTE) teacher posts plus 4.7 FTE newly qualified teacher posts. We are also opposed any cuts to the primary schools support staff formula and any reduction to Resource Coordinators in secondary schools.”

“We think these cuts to teaching posts would be highly detrimental and would further add to the pressures on teaching staff across the city if the overall level of teaching resource is reduced.  It is very obvious from the public’s feedback on social media to the reports in the Courier and Evening Telegraph that the people of Dundee share our concerns.”

 

“We recently had a report at the Children, Families and Communities Committee of the council on educational achievement in Dundee, and while there is much positive progress which we welcome and thank teachers and pupils for their hard work, the gap in literacy achievement between pupils from the most deprived quintiles remains around 20 points behind those from the least deprived quintiles. Furthermore, the poverty-related attainment gap remains wider in Dundee than it was on 2016/17.”

“There’s been clear areas of progress across Dundee schools and teaching staff and pupils deserve much credit for this, but the poverty-related attainment gap will not be closed with fewer staff as this SNP administration has pushed through and the SNP Scottish Government cuts to Dundee’s share of Scottish Attainment Challenge funding is a further blow.

“The additional funding coming following the UK budget can save these 32 teaching posts and this is the chance for the SNP administration to do the right thing and save them.”