Dundee’s two SNP MSPs have been branded “disgraceful” for voting against scrapping a 79% cut to cash set aside for the poorest children in their areas.
Joe FitzPatrick and Shona Robison initially declined our request to set out their reasons for refusing to side with Labour’s move to safeguard attainment gap cash.
Instead, they issued a general statement from an unnamed party spokesman.
The MSPs later released comments under their own names, calling their opponents’ demands a “stunt”.
What will the cuts mean for schools?
Last year, we revealed plans to overhaul how funding is distributed to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap in schools.
The shake-up meant the cash previously shared among the country’s nine most deprived council areas is stretched across all 32 local authorities in Scotland.
Dundee schools will lose around £4.9 million over the next four years, including £1.2 million dropped from the budget in 2022/23.
MSPs had the option to back a vote last Wednesday that would have seen Parliament call on ministers to reinstate full funding for the nine original “challenge authorities”, including Dundee.
However, SNP and Green MSPs – including Mr FitzPatrick and Ms Robison – voted to amend the motion and the instruction to replace the funding.
MSPs urged to explain their actions
North East Labour MSP Michael Marra, who led the move at Holyrood, called on the pair to explain their actions to city parents.
He said: “Dundee is set to lose £5 million of vital education funding as a result of SNP votes in Parliament.
“Labour’s motion was a simple request to put back the money that the SNP is taking from the poorest communities in Scotland.
“Over 100 local staff posts rely on that money. These are teachers, speech therapists and family support workers.
“Our most vulnerable young people rely on them every day. For SNP members from Dundee to vote through this cut is disgraceful.”
Mr Marra said the cost of putting back the money would amount to 0.01% of the Scottish Government budget but would be “vital” for children in Dundee.
“Education unions say that the decision ‘beggars belief’ and a former Dundee headteacher has called the decision ‘immoral’,” Mr Marra said.
“They are absolutely right. SNP MSPs should explain why they took this action in Parliament this week. It is Dundee children who will lose out.”
MSP claims vote was a ‘stunt’
Mr FitzPatrick said: “The vote at the Scottish Parliament was a stunt by Labour MSPs to deflect from the reality that this was a decision agreed at Cosla by their Labour council leader colleagues from across Scotland.
“Dundee’s re-elected SNP Council is bringing forward budget plans to invest £500,000 to boost attainment in schools.”
Shona Robison said: “Changes to the funding formula for the Scottish Attainment Challenge were agreed by council leaders, including Labour leaders, from across Scotland at Cosla.
“Councillor John Alexander was the sole leader to object on behalf of Dundee’s SNP-led Council administration.”
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon once described the pledge to close the education attainment gap by 2026 as her “defining mission” in politics.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Someville now says it would be “arbitrary” to put a date on closing the gap between the richest and poorest pupils.