Education bosses are being told cuts of up to £4 million from education in Dundee is “savage” and “eye-watering”.
In an attempt to close the attainment gap in Scotland’s schools, a £43m Scottish Attainment Challenge fund gives extra money to the nine most deprived local authorities, including Dundee City Council.
However, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has since announced this fund is to be reformed.
The £43m fund is being spread out across all 32 local authorities instead of the poorest nine.
She says this is in response to the impact of the pandemic on pupils across Scotland.
A Holyrood committee has now been told these cuts will lead to difficult decisions and negative impacts in places like Dundee.
Good work could be undone by cuts
North East MSP Michael Marra, who is also a Dundee councillor, says it will result in £4m being slashed from education in Dundee.
He warns this could lead to a lot of “good work” done in recent years in the city being undone.
There will be challenging decisions to make.”
– Jennifer King, Dundee City Council.
Speaking at a meeting of the government’s education, children and young people committee, Mr Marra said: “Last week the Scottish Attainment Challenge fund was reformed and this detailed £35.5m of year-on-year cuts to funding and the reallocation of £43m from the nine most deprived local authorities to spread [the funding] put across the 32 local authorities.
“This means savage and eye-watering cuts to the nine original authorities.”
The nine local authorities currently receiving this funding are Dundee, Clackmannanshire, East and North Ayrshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.
Challenging decisions to make
Jennifer King, the children and families service’s education manager at Dundee City Council, warned: “There will be challenging decisions to make.
“I think it would be unrealistic not to anticipate that.”
She says the funding will now be tapered off over the next few years and the council will need to look at other sources of funding to get by.
Ms King added the money from the Scottish Attainment Challenge fund had been spent on testing out different kinds of interventions in Dundee, and used the example of developing speech and language provision in the city’s nurseries.
Mike Corbett from the NASUWT teaching union added: “I understand the rationale to try and aid families in schools outside the nine local authorities where poverty was identified.
“But to take money away from those nine local authorities in order to do so will inevitably lead to some negative impact.”