MID Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley has called on the education minister to step in to stop proposed education cuts in Fife.

As reported in the Press last week, parent councils from eight high schools – including Queen Anne and Inverkeithing – issued a statement criticising plans which could see £1.2 million slashed from school budgets.

They said that pupils would suffer from the squeeze and said the scale of the cuts was “wholly inconsistent with Fife Council’s own vision of improving life chances for all”.

Mr Rowley has written to both John Swinney and council education chief Carrie Lindsay in the hope of seeing the proposals thrown out.

“I am asking Mr Swinney as Cabinet Secretary for Education to work with Fife Council to explore how these cuts that are damaging frontline teaching and learning can be stopped,” he said.

“I am pointing out that parents and pupils and teachers won’t understand when the SNP Government say there are no cuts to education and yet over £2.3 million is being taken out of the secondary school budgets.

“On top of these cuts, we are now being told that the budget announced by the Scottish Government for Fife Council will mean a further £10 million of cuts to local services and this will include education. This cannot go on and the SNP Government needs to pull their heads out the sand and address the funding crisis in education and local services.”

In his letter to the education minister, he states: “I am sure you can understand that people are confused when they hear both you and the Finance Secretary state that there are no cuts to education and I am also very sure you will appreciate the massive concerns amongst parents, pupils and teachers at the impact of these.

“I would therefore ask that you hold discussions with Fife Council to see if there is a joint way of working to stop the cuts to education in Fife.”

He called on Carrie Lindsay to publish a “detailed outline” of every school’s cuts and the impact that they will have, saying “complete transparency” was essential.

In her response, told Mr Rowley: “The education service is discussing the position with individual secondary headteachers as they are determining the proposals for accommodating these savings in their respective schools.

“Headteachers are continuing their discussions with their staff teams and with their parent councils. The budget adjustment for each school is, therefore, already public information.”

However, Mr Rowley said Ms Lindsay’s response was not good enough.

He added: “It totally fails to answer the issues raised and fails to answer the question which is will the education authority publish a detailed outline of the cuts school by school and the impact that these cuts will have on pupils, teachers and on teaching and learning?”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said local authorities were responsible for setting school budgets.
“The latest figures show their spend on education increased from £4.95 billion in 2015-16 to £5.07 billion in 2016-17 – a real terms increase of 0.3 per cent,” said the spokesperson.

“Fife Council will receive over £674 million Scottish Government funding in 2018-19. It has set an education budget of £337 million for 2018-19 – an increase of over £6 million from the previous year.

"Moreover, with its decision to increase council tax by 3 per cent. Fife Council has £18.8 million more available to support day-to-day services – including education – this year, compared with 2017-18, a real terms increase of 1.5 per cent.”