This article appears as part of the Lessons to Learn newsletter.

Today our big front-page story is an exclusive report on the education cuts being implemented by Glasgow City Council.

In contrast to what some politicians would have you believe, reductions in school staff numbers are already underway, and now teachers and parents are warning about the extremely serious consequences of the decisions being made.

These cuts are being presented as a ‘redesign’ of services, but that’s just a transparent (and if we’re honest, pretty incompetent) attempt at spinning the unspinnable.

Read more:

Exclusive: Teachers and parents warn of a 'state of emergency' as Glasgow education cuts begin

In response to our coverage of this latest development, Glasgow City Council issued a statement that, amongst other things, hit out at “alarmist and inaccurate information”. That’s some pretty serious stuff, and made me think that it might be worth going through the whole comment in a bit more detail.

So why don’t we do just that?

“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.”

So first thing’s first, this is the admission that our story is correct: the ‘staffing formula’ for the coming year includes cuts that derive from the budget deal last month. No matter what you are told to the contrary, it is absolutely clear that Glasgow’s education cuts have already begun, and that the consequences, even at this early stage, are incredibly serious.

“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.”

If it is too early to highlight specifics at this stage of the process, then how can the council be so sure that there will be no compulsory redundancies?

And even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean nobody loses their jobs. There are staff on temporary contracts who are worried that they will simply not be renewed – conveniently for the council, those losses wouldn’t show as compulsory redundancies, but that doesn’t make them any less serious.

“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.”

Working with headteachers and having meaningful consultations with unions all sounds great, but the claims are seriously undermined by the fact that teachers themselves are extremely critical of the council’s handling of this issue. AHDS members, for example, say that there is an “urgent need for clarity and effective communication” from the council, and that schools will “need support in informing parents about the changes and managing expectations regarding the level of support they can provide.”

Council officials may well believe that they are doing well and engaging properly – unfortunately for them, it doesn’t seem to be a view shared by teachers.

“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.”

It is quite something for the council to issue a statement like that in a response to a news story like this one. It may well suit them to dismiss our reporting as “alarmist and inaccurate” but the obvious, glaring problem with that tactic is that we are reporting the specific and explicit concerns of teachers and headteachers, as well as parents, from across the city.


“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.”

That cross-party group is, allegedly, very important – it’s just not important enough to bother doing anything for more than two months after the budget vote. And when it does eventually meet, we are supposed to believe that it will carry out ‘oversight’ and ‘scrutiny’ of budget cuts that we now know will have already been implemented.

“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.”

Finally, we get to the heart of the issue. For political reasons, education spending has been protected for years, but now the amount of funding being provided to councils by the SNP/Green Scottish Government is so inadequate that there’s no way to avoid cuts to education services.

Those cuts will, inevitably, damage the lives of thousands of children, and those with least will, as always, suffer most.

That’s not inaccurate or alarmist – it is the reality of councillors’ choices.

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Oh and one last thing. A few hours after filing the story yesterday evening, I opened up Twitter to see various Glasgow councillors engaged in a stupid social media spat about the issue of teacher cuts. Both the SNP/Green and Labour groups had included significant reductions in their budget proposals, and neither had the courage or the decency to be honest about it at the time, but now here they were, squabbling over who had been more dishonest than the other.

The Herald:
For what it’s worth, I think Glasgow’s children deserve to live in a city governed by adults, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.