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Council writes to parents warning of ‘unprecedented cuts’ to schools to tackle deficit

Parents in Falkirk have been warned there will “unprecedented cuts” to schools as the council faces a £29m budget deficit over the next five years.

Falkirk council has asked secondary school headteachers to find £2.5m in cuts in 2019-20, whilst headteachers at primary schools have been asked to make £1.8m in savings.

The council has sent letters, seen by BBC Scotland, to parents of children at primary and secondary schools detailing the amount individual headteachers are being asked to save.

Falkirk councillors agreed at an education meeting to take an unusual route and instruct headteachers in the region to consult with staff, pupils, and parents on how savings could be achieved.

In a report to the executive, it was warned that cuts could result in compulsory redundancies which could in turn lead to larger class sizes as well as fewer support staff and supervision capacity.

But in a statement, a spokesperson said the leader of the council had apologised for the concern raised, but that there were no plans for redundancies or staff cuts.

The spokesperson said: “Since this letter was issued, Falkirk council has made clear that no-one will lose their job nor are they planning compulsory redundancies and there will be no impact on the pupil/teacher ratio.

“They have also stated categorically that, while they are looking to reduce costs, they will not reduce the options and opportunities available to pupils. Instead they are looking at schools working more closely together to offer subjects between them.”

Parents have until 7 December to respond to consultations, with the Scottish Government due to set out its draft budget for the coming year on 12 December.

The council has said no final decision will be made until it sets its budget in February 2019.

A spokesperson for teacher’s union EIS said: “The EIS is already in discussions with the other staff trade unions as to how best to fight these cuts, and is aware that parents’ groups are also organising and highly-motivated to protect our schools and the education of our young people.”

Image credit - yvonnestewarthenderson

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