Glasgow City Council must reverse planned cuts to its education department if it is “serious about closing the attainment gap” and “helping those in most need”, a union has said.
As part of a £4m cuts package, the council is ending a home school service, by axing 29 support workers, and closing two assessment centres for under 5s with additional needs.
UNISON branch officer Sylvia Haughney said: “Closing the attainment gap is more than just politics, it is the responsible delivery of justice to the most marginalised in our community.”
Glasgow Conservatives have described the cuts as “outrageous” and a “hammer blow” to some of the city’s most vulnerable children.
A council spokeswoman said education has the “biggest budget” and was “protected in relative terms in comparison to other services” to safeguard learning and teaching.
The plans are part of savings approved by the council’s SNP administration in February. UNISON said the support workers provide “a critical bridge between the needs of many individual families and the wider access to education provision”.
The union added assessment centres are “vital in the early identification of children under 5 with additional needs”.
Ms Haughney said: “There is no greater duty on education services than to address the needs of those missing children from our schools. These home school support workers are a key route to positive destinations for those who otherwise fall far short of their potential.
“The pre-5 assessment centres are crucial in getting additional support to those children who require it as quickly as possible.
“If this council cares for helping those in most need and is serious about closing the attainment gap, it is imperative to retain the full strength of these two services.”
Glasgow Conservative MSP Annie Wells said the savings will “affect some of our most vulnerable children in the city as well as seeing close to 30 people losing their jobs during a cost-of-living crisis”.
“Home school support workers provide a vital link in ensuring pupils who need the most support in attending school do so, but that is now set to be lost,” she added.
“And parents with kids with additional support needs from a young age already find it extremely difficult to know where to turn to for support. The shameful closure of these assessment centres will only make that harder.”
Alongside Glasgow Conservative group leader councillor Thomas Kerr, she is urging the council to “think again”. He said the cuts are a “disgrace”.
A council spokeswoman said: “The council’s budget for 2023/24 had a spending gap of £50m.
“Education has by far the biggest budget and was protected in relative terms in comparison to other services in order to safeguard learning and teaching as much as possible.
“Our schools will be looking to review processes that will lessen any impact to the individual needs of our children and young people.”