Ministers to 'step in' to stop teacher numbers being cut

It comes after leaked proposals to cut 800 teaching posts in Glasgow were revealed.

Scottish Government ministers to ‘step in’ to stop teaching numbers being cut iStock

Scottish Government ministers are set to step in to stop councils cutting teaching numbers, it has been reported.

Local councils are currently struggling with potential budget deficits for the year ahead.

It comes as all 32 local authorities are set to announce their yearly spending plans.

The SNP pledged in its 2021 election manifesto to increase teaching numbers by at least 3,500 before the end of the parliamentary session.

In reports by The Times newspaper and the BBC, it has been revealed that government ministers will ensure the number of teachers are not cut to save money.

It comes after proposals for cutting 800 teaching posts were drawn up by Glasgow City Council.

The plans, which also included closing primary schools early on Friday, were drafted as a possible way to deal with the council’s £68m funding shortfall.

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said last week: “Political groups will present their budget proposals next month and it is for them to decide whether they wish to include any of these options.”

The Scottish Government would not be drawn on the issue, but education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We have very clear commitments to improve Scottish education.

“Ministers are firm in their views that Scottish education would not be improved by having fewer teachers or less time in school.”

Responding to the plans in Glasgow during First Minister’s Questions last week, Nicola Sturgeon talked up the autonomy of councils in the handling of education, but added: “As my record shows and indeed as Government’s funding to councils demonstrates, I am in favour of more teachers, not fewer teachers.”

The reports suggest plans to stop any teacher cuts could be unveiled in the coming days.

Government intervention would come in the wake of growing disagreement between local authorities and ministers over financing.

Local authority body COSLA has repeatedly called for more funding from Government to avoid cuts to public services, saying a £550m cash increase in next year’s budget could be as low as £71m when ring-fenced Government plans are accounted for.

The country’s biggest teaching union, the EIS, condemned plans for teacher cuts and said it would be “simply impossible for education in Glasgow to function with the level of cuts proposed”.

Susan Quinn, education convener and secretary of Glasgow EIS, said: “Cuts to education are unacceptable at any time, but even more so when schools are focused on supporting education recovery for young people.”

She added: “Education needs more funding, not less, and the council and Scottish Government both must take responsibility for ensuring that education is protected and properly resourced.”

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