Proposed education cuts in Glasgow will create a ‘state of emergency’ that will have a ‘seismic impact’ on young people, according to teachers and parents in the city.

Members of the EIS teaching union, the Glasgow City Parents Group, and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes Scotland, have raised serious concerns about issues including falling attainment, worsening mental health, increased exclusions and reduced pupil safety.

Despite this, The Herald can reveal that plans to reduce teaching posts are already underway.

Councillors have already approved budget proposals which included cutting hundreds of teaching posts and ending support for co-ordinators managing a “transformational” pupil mentoring scheme.

The Herald understands that a new staffing formula will see many more primary school staff allocated full teaching timetables, including those currently part of senior leadership teams alongside headteachers.

Speaking anonymously, one headteacher from the city explained that schools would need to use Pupil Equity Funding to hire more teachers if they wish to compensate for the changes, but that this may not be possible in practice. They also raised a number of concerns about the impact of the changes, including with regards to safeguarding of pupils in schools.

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The latest development comes despite previous claims that further work would be carried out before decisions on implementing the agreed cuts were progressed. Responding to a constituent earlier this month, Scottish Greens councillor Blair Anderson wrote that the budget agreement “included a new cross-party group to be set up to explore options for ‘Service Redesign and Future Income Generation’, with a ‘Review of the MCR Pathways Programme’ to be included as part of wider education service reform.”

He went on to claim that “what these reforms will look like in practice is still a matter for further political consideration, and we are awaiting confirmation from the Chief Executive’s office and City Treasurer on how this work will be taken forward.”

However, The Herald can also exclusively reveal that an association for primary school leaders has also warned about the dire consequences of the council’s plans.

The Association of Headteacher and Deputes Scotland (AHDS) surveyed its members in Glasgow, asking about the potential impact of the council’s proposed cuts. The ‘main impacts’ of reduced teacher numbers included lower attainment levels, less time for children who need individual support, an increase in school exclusions, reduced support for and engagement with families, decreased capacity for school improvement activities, and potential safety issues for both pupils and staff.

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Asked what activities schools or the council should cease in order to cope with the cuts to teacher numbers, AHDS members said that the council should considerably reduce the paperwork and administrative burden they face, while schools will “need to reduce what is on offer”, meaning that “family learning, sports events, whole school events will be no longer possible.”

Members also argued that far clearer and more effective communication from the council was necessary, and that schools’ focus will have to shift away from improvement and towards “mitigating [the] impact of cuts”.

Greg Dempster, General Secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes Scotland (AHDS), which represents nearly 90% of primary school leaders in Glasgow, told The Herald that the council has “voted through a massive cut to education budgets which was hidden as ‘service redesign’ rather than in the education section of the budget.”

“Reducing teacher numbers is not service redesign, it is a high-impact cut to what can be offered to pupils.

“The impact of the planned cuts to teacher numbers in the coming year will be to seriously curtail the ability of schools to support their most vulnerable learners and operate safely.  The further cuts planned for the subsequent two years will have a seismic impact on education in Glasgow. The additional workload which will land on already overstretched school leadership teams cannot be over-stated.

“Members have shared with their bosses information about the far-reaching impact these cuts will have on education in Glasgow. AHDS has written directly to Council leaders.

“We have yet to receive a response and are very concerned that Councillors may not fully appreciate the impact that these cuts will have on Glasgow’s children and on the wellbeing and retention of school staff, particularly school leadership teams.”

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Teachers and parents have also been writing to councillors warning about the impact of the cuts being progressed.

A model letter from the Glasgow City Parents Group highlights the “damaging long-term impact these decisions will have on the life chances of our young people – especially the most vulnerable in our city where over a third of children are already living in poverty.”

It goes on to raise concerns about “a significantly more dangerous environment for staff and pupils” and argues that current pupils are part of “a generation who need extra support post-Covid, not less.” The letter explicitly states that the “decision to withdraw Pathways Co-ordinators will do untold damage to the immediate and long-term prospects of the young people” and that this cut “sends the message to our care-experienced kids that they should no longer expect equal opportunities.”

The letter ends by arguing that Glasgow faces “an emergency situation and it requires emergency action.”

Members of EIS Glasgow have also contacted the city’s elected representatives to outline the impact of the coming cuts to education, which they say will “damage the future prospects of our children and young people for decades to come.” Their letter warns that the council has left “already overworked teachers deeply concerned for the future of their careers and the financial impact on their family if they lose their job,” and that the planned changes to staffing allocations “will inevitably lead to greater teacher burnout and good teachers leaving the profession.”

With incidences of violence and aggression already rising in Scottish schools, EIS Glasgow members argue that “cutting professionals working with our young people can only lead to a further increase in violence and aggression".

They also point out that “Glasgow City Council has a duty of care to its staff and the children and young people who attend its schools, yet it is starkly clear that cutting teacher numbers will put pupils and staff at risk".

Like the Glasgow City Parents Group, they characterise education in Glasgow as being put into “a state of emergency” as a result of the recent budget decisions.

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A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “The annual school staffing exercise takes place each year between January and the summer and changes take place in line with school roll fluctuations.

“This year the staffing formulas will also reflect the service reforms as part of the council’s budget set in February that required £108m of savings from council services over the next three years. 

“There will be no compulsory redundancies and any school staff declared surplus due to a declining school roll will be redeployed or savings met through normal staff turnover – it is just too early to highlight specifics at this stage of the process.

“Officers have been working with headteachers to target the individual needs of schools and their pupils and will continue to have meaningful consultation with the teacher trade unions.

“At every stage we will do everything we can to minimise any impact but in the current financial climate the council must look at every option. 

“What is not helpful for our families, pupils and staff is to be subjected to alarmist and inaccurate information about learning and teaching in the city and our schools will keep their families reassured and informed. 

“The cross party, political oversight group – which will meet after the Easter recess – will scrutinise the service redesigns for each department to achieve the agreed savings.

“For many years education spending has been prioritised, relative to other services, in the budget process. 

“However, with the education budget now amounting to more than half of service expenditure directed by the council, it is significantly more challenging to protect education when substantial savings are still required.”