The SNP Government must take urgent action to halt cuts to teacher numbers at schools in Helensburgh and Lomond, local MSP Jackie Baillie has said.
Jackie Baillie wrote to SNP Education Secretary Angela Constance to raise the concerns of parents at primary schools on the Peninsula and called for urgent talks between the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council to find a solution that protects teacher numbers. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in February this year that the Scottish Government had secured an agreement with all local authorities, including Argyll and Bute, to maintain teacher numbers. However Argyll and Bute Council said it could honour this commitment while still reducing the number of teachers in some rural schools.
The Labour MSP also challenged Argyll and Bute Council on its proposals to reduce the number of teachers at Kilcreggan Primary from five to four and urged councilors to come clean on plans for all other schools in Helensburgh and Lomond. The Council proposes to merge P5, P6 and P7 into one composite class. Practice suggests that this makes it very difficult for teachers to respond effectively to at least three different levels of ability in one class.
“Local parents are very concerned about the impact of reducing teacher numbers on the education of our young people and having a composite class of three different year groups and levels of ability. I have written to Argyll and Bute to outline my opposition to these cuts to teacher numbers in the strongest possible terms. There is clearly huge pressure on local government finances due to budget cuts handed down from the Scottish Government in Edinburgh but we must ensure that education remains a priority for investment.
“There are 4000 fewer teachers in our schools since the SNP took power in 2007 so I welcomed the recent agreement between the Scottish Government and local authorities, including Argyll and Bute Council, to maintain teacher numbers.
“But if Argyll and Bute Council can fulfill that commitment while still ploughing ahead with its plans to cut teacher numbers and increase class sizes in local schools then the policy laid down by the SNP clearly isn’t working. It is therefore the responsibility of the SNP Education Secretary to get back round the table with Argyll and Bute Council and find a way forward that reassures parents and keeps teachers in our classrooms