Council chiefs have been branded “farcical” after admitting they are unable to say how much controversial plans to introduce faculties in Dundee schools will cost.
Dundee City Council has claimed the move, which will mean replacing principal teachers with faculty leaders responsible for a number of different subjects, will save around £2 million each year and help drive up attainment.
However, the administration has been slammed by union leaders and opposition members after senior figures admitted they cannot say how much the new structure will cost to put in place, despite repeated pleas to make the sums publicly available.
David Baxter, Dundee branch secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), criticised the ruling SNP group for failing to hold a “robust debate” on faculties and warned implementation costs could lead to further education cuts next year.
He said: “We have asked repeatedly how much this is going to cost and again no one has been able to tell us.
“Faculties are deeply unpopular with secondary schools across Scotland and our concerns would largely be around the cost of delivery, the loss of jobs and an increase in workload for our members.”
Mr Baxter added: “Our big worry is that in next year’s budget we are going to have to cut more from education to pay for faculties. If they had made the figures available upfront then at least the councillors could have given their informed consent.”
Council bosses were accused on Monday of “asset stripping a generation’s future” during a heated debate on failing education standards and cuts to school budgets and teacher numbers.
Michael Marra, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman in Dundee, insisted there was “no evidence whatsoever that management tinkering will increase attainment” and called for “more teachers in classrooms, not more managers in offices”.
“The inability of the SNP administration to answer the most basic questions about the faculties proposal is farcical,” he said.
“The administration are unable to say how much the creation of extra manager posts will cost. At a time of ever deeper SNP cuts to education budgets we know this proposal means further cuts to front-line teachers.”
Dundee City Council’s children and families services committee convener Stewart Hunter said Mr Marra did not understand “the basic premise of the proposal”, which he insisted would lead to a reduction in management posts.
He said schools were working through how faculties should operate and after this stage is complete, the council will “have a better idea of how quickly we can make the savings”, and said Mr Baxter had been made aware of this.
Mr Hunter added: “There are no costings from these plans that will require us to make any savings from next year’s budget. Mr Baxter was also advised of this previously.
“For the first time in a number of years we have seen a drop in attainment in our secondary schools.
“The Labour Party and EIS argument is that we should maintain the status quo and hope for better. That is not acceptable to me.”