Protesters have demanded that the Scottish Government and local councils ‘prioritise children’s futures’ during a march for Education in Glasgow city centre.

Hundreds of parents, teachers, trade unionists and supporters took part in the demonstration, which was sparked by major cuts to teacher numbers and other education services in the city. The event was organised and led by the Glasgow City Parent Group.

Marchers gathered at the top of Buchanan Street before proceeding to George Square, where a rally was held outside of Glasgow City Chambers, the building in which SNP and Green councillors have passed series of education cuts in an attempt to plug a massive budget black hole.

The city is planning to cut up to 450 teaching posts (around 8% of the current total) over the coming three years, with 172 posts already removed for the coming school year. The decision means that as many as 45 schools will have only the headteacher not in class for at least some of the week, prompting concerns about teacher workload, ASN provision and pupil safety.

In April, the council’s education convener exclusively told The Herald that her administration had been left with no choice but to reduce teacher numbers due to the funding settlement handed down by the Scottish Government. In both cases, the SNP was in charge with support from the Scottish Greens.


Last week, councillors rejected a Labour proposal to delay cuts to a widely-celebrated mentoring scheme for vulnerable teenagers, instead passing major cuts to schools’ core staffing provision, with schools having to use anti-poverty funding if they are unhappy with the reduction. SNP and Green councillors have claimed that the major cuts will not reduce the number of pupils being supported, despite the fact that a full assessment of the likely impact has not been carried out.

In recent months The Herald has also reported on the closure of both the Advanced Higher Hub, which gave pupils the opportunity to study advanced qualifications in a university setting, and the School Library Outreach service, which allowed schools to borrow from an extensive range of teaching resources and have them delivered free of charge.

Glasgow cuts rally. Photo by Colin Mearns.Glasgow cuts rally. Photo by Colin Mearns. (Image: Newsquest)

Members of the EIS trade union have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in response to the council’s plans, as have members of the Associated of Headteachers and Deputes Scotland (AHDS), raising the prospect of massive disruption to schooling after the summer holidays.

Leanne McGuire, chair of the Glasgow City Parents Group, told The Herald that she organised the march “to demand better funding for our children’s education".

“Our kids deserve the resources and support needed to succeed,” she added, “and it's time the Scottish Government and local authorities prioritise their future.”

During her speech to the crowd in George Square, Ms McGuire told the crowd that they are fighting “for the promise of a brighter future for all our children and young people.”

She accused councillors of “making decisions without fully understanding the impact on pupils or staff,” arguing that such choices are “just a budget line to them,” and insisted that if school staff go on strike in the coming months then “the blame for this will lay squarely in the hands of Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, not the unions.” Ms McGuire also criticised the Scottish Government for issuing statements which "completely contradict what is happening in the country".

She added: “We need investment in education to ensure each child gets the education they deserve. We need appropriate staffing to prepare our children for a rapidly changing world. We need support for our teachers, school and college staff, who are the backbone of our education system, so they can continue to inspire and educate without the burden of excessive stress and job insecurity.

“We understand the limitations on budgets, but given the disaster happening in Glasgow, it is time for the Scottish Government to intervene.

“Politicians are paid to create solutions to better this country, so it’s time they started doing their job and stopped looking the other way. It’s time to step up and fix their current mess.”


Another speaker, Sean O’Neill of the GMB trade union, is a co-ordinator on the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme in Glasgow.

He told protesters that, in February, “our service and jobs were targeted for cuts and we were sent redundancy letters,” but that workers had “won a year’s contract extension”. He argued that if cuts are needed, the council should start by reducing the salaries of executives rather than “cutting the legs off young people.”

Sean O'Neill with his daughter AubreySean O'Neill with his daughter Aubrey (Image: Colin Mearns)

Speakers from organisations including the EIS, the Association of Headteachers and Deputes Scotland, NASUWT, and UNISON also addressed the crowd.

A council spokeswoman said: “Our officers will continue to support our headteachers and their schools during this process.

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

“Officers are looking at several savings as part of a budget that required £108m of savings from council services over the next three years, not including social care.

“We know that this will be a worrying time for everyone - 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 needed.”

Glasgow parents on education rally. Photo by Colin Mearns.Glasgow parents on education rally. Photo by Colin Mearns. (Image: Newsquest)

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government is investing record levels in the education system, with the Education and Skills budget growing to over £4.8 billion for 2024-25. This will support our commitments on narrowing the attainment gap, expanding free school meals, free tuition fees and supporting teacher pay and numbers.

“Teachers in Scotland are the best paid in the UK and we spend more per pupil than any other part of the UK.

“The Scottish Government is committed to protecting teacher numbers and we are offering local authorities £145.5 million for that purpose – providing further protection for children’s education. We hope that all councils, who are responsible for the employment of teachers, will accept these grants so they can continue to benefit from this significant funding.

“While it is for local councils to determine the most appropriate educational provision, the Scottish Government is committed to improving outcomes for young people with additional support needs.

“Spending on additional support for learning reached a record high of £926 million in the latest available figures [2022-23] to help address growing demand in this area. Through our continued investment of £15 million per year, the number of FTE additional pupils support staff has also increased by 725 (4.4%), bringing the total number of support staff in Scotland in 2023 to 17,330, the highest recorded level."