A FIFE councillor has called for “absolute assurances” that business education at Queen Anne High School will not be scrapped as part of planned budget cuts.

Conservative education spokesperson, Cllr Kathleen Leslie, said she understood the department had been included on a ‘Managing Change’ document and the subject could be removed from the Dunfermline school’s curriculum.

She raised the issue at last month’s full Fife Council meeting and was told that curriculum rationale was determined to suit the specific needs of the school.

“Unfortunately, this provides little, if any, assurance to those pupils who have started National 4 and 5 this year,” she said.

“They appear to have no guarantee of progressing onto National 5 and Higher respectively if they so wish to do so simply because the administration can give no guarantee that the department will remain in place.

“Instead I was further advised that ‘schools work together to meet the curriculum needs of pupils in the area’.

“Perhaps the administration is unaware of the fact that business education is already an oversubscribed subject at Queen Anne and its pupil roll is to increase, as is the roll of other high schools in Dunfermline. So where are those pupils to go should the department close?

“When I contacted the school, following a concern being brought to me, it seemed there was some backtracking on what had originally been proposed to some members of staff.

“I would now like an absolute assurance from the co-leaders of Fife Council that the future of the department is guaranteed so pupils can be confident that they can continue to study business education through the senior phase.”

Executive director for education and children’s services, Carrie Lindsay, said they were not in a position to determine what will be offered in specific schools for 2019/20.

“The subjects and curriculum on offer are determined by each school to suit its specific needs, and are also based on pupil curricular choices,” she said.

“Schools now have more flexibility to better meet the needs of all learners to increase achievement and raise attainment. All our learners experience a senior phase where they can continue to achieve qualifications as well as develop as confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.”

Co-council leader, Cllr David Alexander, hit back at Cllr Leslie’s demand for assurances.

“The absolute hypocrisy from the Conservatives goes to new limits when it’s revealed that Cllr Leslie and the Conservatives actually voted at the Fife Council budget meeting in February (along with every political party) for the spending reductions she is now making unfounded claims about,” he said.

“Not only that, on their own, the Conservatives proposed a reduction in cleaning standards in schools amounting to £400,000 and also proposed a reduction of education provision of £1.4 million in regeneration areas.

“These additional cuts show that their attempts to pretend they genuinely care about education are without foundation. “Council staff have fully responded – as far as they can at this time – to Cllr Leslie’s claims but she ignores or refuses to believe them which is unfortunate.”