A teaching union has expressed fears over plans to reduce the number of nursery teacher posts in Fife.
Fife EIS said staff would be directly impacted by proposals outlined in Thursday’s budget to develop the peripatetic model to deliver access to a teacher in nurseries.
While the exact number of posts being axed remains unclear, the approach aims to save around £850,000 over the next three years.
“Aside from the issues around travelling and engaging with different sets of children, parents and staff this directly dilutes the contact our children in Early Years will have with a teacher,” said EIS publicity officer David Farmer.
“That is not a positive.
“Why would you expand this unproven model? Where is the educational validity for this? Where is the common sense?”
He also questioned why parents have not been asked how they feel about such a change.
“Do they not have a voice in the future of their children? Value is a much misused word in education.
“Our Early Years teacher members feel that this proposal de-values all their efforts to provide the very best for children in Fife.”
Questioning what the budget proposals mean for EIS members, Mr Farmer said: “Our initial view would be bigger classes and less supply cover with the concomitant impact on teacher workload and stress.
“Much has been made by Fife Council about vacancies and recruitment. We now understand they intend to dispose of these vacant posts. The impact is bigger classes, greater workload and greater teacher stress, not to mention the impact on future recruitment.”
Jacqueline Price, head of education, said: “As the peripatetic teachers work over a number of nurseries, this encourages sharing of best practice as well as helping to moderate the quality of children’s learning and experiences, supporting curriculum development across the local area.
“As we move forward to 2020 it is clear that Fife Council will have to work with an increasing number of partners such as playgroups, private nurseries and childminders to provide all eligible children with their entitled allocation of early learning and childcare which will increase to 1140 hours per year.
“The children who access these settings are also entitled to support from a teacher and we need to build our capacity to offer these children equitable access to a teacher.
“Therefore we are considering ways to redesign our services to make sure all children have the highly beneficial access to a teacher.
“One of the ways we are working towards building our early years workforce for 2020 is the introduction of 28 additional graduates who will be supporting the learning and development of those children in areas of highest deprivation.”
Meanwhile, Fife Council co-leaders David Alexander and David Ross hit back at Tory claims the Scottish Government had kicked the Levenmouth Rail Link project “into the long grass”.
The Tory group wants to hire a dedicated Levenmouth rail link officer at £75,000 per year as part of its budget proposals.
Mr Alexander said: “The truth is that the Scottish Government has hired consultants with the aim of enhancing the previous STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) report to their satisfaction.
“In addition, a web site will be created within Transport Scotland as a central point where information about the rail link will be posted in order to keep everyone up to date. These actions, as ever, fly in the face of Tory claims.”
Mr Ross said spending £75,000 on a dedicated officer “would not add anything” given consultants had been hired by the government.
“This threatens the cross-party support which is essential to delivering the whole Levenmouth Rail Link,” he said.