Fife’s secondary schools need to make almost £1.3 million of cuts over the next year, The Courier can reveal.
With many high schools asked to save five or six-figure sums, Scotland’s largest teaching union has now written to every one of the region’s councillors asking them to reject any proposals which come forward to cut staffing levels for the 2019/20 financial year amid concern about teacher workload and morale.
Members of the EIS have taken the step – just days after the start of the new term – as schools struggle to get to grips with the savings proposals agreed in the 2018/19 budget.
Union officials criticised a lack of clarity over how the savings will be achieved as “very worrying” and claimed details of the impact of the cuts were not given before the budget was agreed in February.
David Farmer, publicity officer with Fife’s EIS branch, said: “Based on what we do know thus far it is clear that there will be a substantial impact on the workload of other promoted staff and unpromoted staff in secondary schools.
“Posts might disappear but the workload won’t.
“We have a very real fear about the effects on subject presentations. We believe this cut will restrict the availability of subjects to students. We believe that support and infrastructure for all subjects will be diluted.
“If the driver is raising attainment we don’t see how this cut is compatible with that proposed goal.”
Mr Farmer added that further cuts were doing nothing to help solve the current recruitment crisis.
He added: “What about the effect on individual promoted staff faced with the loss of their current post? It is hardly a motivator.
“Furthermore, there will be no doubt be an effect on staff morale overall with all that means for stress and concomitant absence.”
Shelagh McLean, head of education and children’s services, said the quality of teaching and learning Fife schools is fundamental to the council’s ambitions for young people.
She also refuted any suggestion that there will be no new permanent posts or opportunities for career progression
Ms McLean said: “This session we will continue to consider, with teaching staff and unions, ways to ensure that each school has a fair allocation of budget according to its size and to give more discretion to headteachers to use their budget to best suit their local needs.
“Headteachers began informal discussions prior to the summer break with their staff about individual proposals on how their schools might manage their staffing levels within the budget expected for session 2019/2020.
“As and when any formal proposals are made for any individual school, we will follow all the usual consultation procedures.”
She added: “We have an excellent professional learning and leadership development programme across Fife, and this will continue.
“As always our focus is on the best possible outcomes for children and young people and their future life chances.”