Labour members on Glasgow City Council have lodged a motion expressing “deep concern” about the impact of planned budget cuts on education services.

As many as 450 teaching posts in the city – around 8% of the current total – could be lost over the next three years, and staff positions critical to the delivery of a ‘transformational’ mentoring programme are also at risk.

The text of the Labour motion, which will be debated on Thursday at a full council session, declares that “cuts to teacher numbers and essential student support programmes are unacceptable and must be urgently addressed".

It goes on to state that “the inadequate funding provided by the Scottish Government means that essential services provided by the Council are being impacted, with education being hardest hit”. The motion concludes by asking the leader of Glasgow City Council “to urgently write to the Scottish Government to seek additional funding".

When the total number of teaching posts under threat emerged in February, unions and parents accused councillors of obscuring their plans and failing to be up-front about the implications of their proposals. The budget was ultimately passed following a deal between the SNP and the Scottish Greens. 

In an exclusive interview with The Herald, the council’s education convener, Cllr Christina Cannon, said that “every political party” had proposed cuts to teacher numbers during the recent budget process, and insisted that the financial situation facing the local authority meant that “there was no other way to slice it".

At the time, the Glasgow Labour group submitted alternative budget proposals that also featured significant cuts to education budgets. One of their councillors subsequently claimed that as most of these reductions would fall in year three of the budget arrangements, Labour had in fact “pushed cuts into neverland” because “year 2 and 3 are projected/hypothetical and never pan out anything like the projections."

None of the budget proposal documents, from any party, explicitly confirmed that teacher numbers would be reduced.

Parents and unions have held protests against the cuts and an online petition launched by EIS Glasgow calling on the city to ‘stop cuts to teacher numbers’ has now gathered more than 11,000 signatures.


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Speaking ahead of the debate on Thursday, Glasgow Labour Education spokesperson Councillor Jill Pidgeon said: “Teachers are the lifeblood of our children's education and are pivotal for shaping Glasgow's future.

“Without sufficient education funding, the achievement gap will widen, driving both current and future generations deeper into poverty. Glasgow already faces the highest child poverty rates in Scotland, and further reductions in teacher numbers will only compound this issue.

“These significant cuts to teaching positions must be stopped.

“This crisis didn't arise overnight; it has been years in the making thanks to SNP incompetence.

“The Scottish government must urgently allocate more funding to Glasgow to prevent these harmful cuts. This is the very least that John Swinney should do to fulfil his obligations to our community.

“Glasgow deserves better.”

Leanne McGuire, chair of the Glasgow City Parents Group, confirmed that her organisation supports the motion, and called on council decision-makers to “acknowledge the profound and detrimental impact these cuts will have on our children, especially our most vulnerable.

“By diminishing staffing and resources in education, the council jeopardises the positive life outcomes of Glasgow's children and young people. In a city grappling with unacceptable levels of child poverty, it feels as though we're hindering rather than nurturing our students' potential.

“We refuse to dwell on past decisions or pit services against each other. As parents, our focus lies solely on the present and the future of our children's education.

“We implore our city's politicians to advocate fiercely for Glasgow and demand adequate funding from the Scottish Government to uphold the standard of education our young people deserve for their future success.”

These cuts will have a devastating impact on young people across Glasgow. The SNP insist education is their top priority but their savage and sustained cuts to councils now mean almost 180 jobs are set to be lost this year and hundreds more teaching jobs are at risk of being lost in our city in the next few years.

Scottish Conservative councillor John Daly said:

“That is a shameful position to be in and will harm pupils from our most deprived backgrounds the most.

“As education secretary, John Swinney repeatedly let down our young people. Now he is First Minister, he cannot stand idly by as these teaching roles look set to be axed.

“He must step in and deliver the funding necessary to his SNP colleagues in Glasgow City Council, who I also urge to stand up against these plans.”

SNP councillor Christina Cannon said:

“Glasgow faces a budget gap over the next three years in excess of £100million. Unless something significant changes in the short term, that is an immense and inescapable pressure.

“The SNP has always sought to protect education budgets even during unprecedented financial challenges. But to preserve the multitude of other services which the city relies upon, the resources had to be found from within existing budgets.

“Had Labour secured the support it sought to pass its budget, it would have led to a much more significant reduction in teachers than was proposed by any other political group, one reason why its budget plans failed. Furthermore, Glasgow is in the financial position it is in part due to the annual cost of addressing Labour's gender pay discrimination and the SNP's efforts to ensure Glasgow doesn't go the way of several Labour-run city councils in England. The least that parents, teachers, staff and young people can expect is honesty from all parties about our financial context and decisions taken.

“In the meantime, all options presented to the cross-party Budget Oversight Group will be subjected to meaningful consultation with relevant stakeholders. The SNP City Administration will continue to lobby the Scottish Government for a funding model which better meets Glasgow's needs. And given the impact of austerity on Glasgow's finances and the lives of its people, and the need for Westminster to uplift funding for local government across the UK, we'll be asking all parties to join our call for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to commit to more realistic funding settlements.”

The Green education spokesperson, Cllr Blair Anderson, said:

"The Greens are tabling an amendment to the Labour motion which sets out our plans to fairly fund Glasgow's schools. We need to use all of the powers that the Council has to mitigate the effects of austerity and to invest in our young people. It's easy for politicians to criticise the situation we are in, but what we need now are solutions and ideas for how to get out of this position. I hope councillors from all parties can recognise this and support our revenue raising plans, like a tourist tax, ending tax breaks for independent schools, and council tax reform. We also need more money and more powers from Holyrood, and are calling on the Scottish Government to step in with more money for teachers which reflects the huge pressure on council budgets.

"Staff, parents, mentors, and young people need to have their voices heard, and the Council needs to meaningfully engage with people to find a sustainable way forward. I have been working with the Glasgow City Parents Group and MCR Pathways to improve the way the Council engages with them, and hope that all parties start to take communication and engagement more seriously."