At Monday’s meeting of the Broughton High School Parent Council the message to the city’s LibDem/SNP Council was clear – protect school funding.
At a packed meeting tactics for getting across to Councillors the need to protect investment in schools were debated. The last three years has seen salami slicing of school budgets by the ruling SNP/Lib Dem Council. Head teachers no longer have any real room for manoeuvre. Latest figures show that there are nearly 200 less teachers in Edinburgh today than in 2007. As a result pupil teacher ratios have been declining. This makes a mockery of the SNP Government’s bold election promises to increase teacher numbers and reduce pupil teacher ratios. Newly qualified teachers are struggling to find work. In a survey I carried out earlier in the year none of the newly qualified teachers in my constituency had been able to find work in teaching.
At the City Council’s Parliamentary briefing earlier this week we were informed that the Council is being hit hard with the SNP’s funding squeeze on local government. Alarmingly Edinburgh is also losing out on funding through cuts to the Fairer Scotland Funds. This cash supports training in the city. Yesterday the Unison branch informed me that the loss of this funding is in addition to cuts already put in place by the local council. The losses will be concentrated in the most disdvantaged areas of the city, Craigmillar, Muirhouse and Pilton, Wester Hailes and Sighthill. Given that the unemployment rate for Edinburgh school leavers has rocketed to 15.5% this is deeply worrying. We cannot afford to write off a generation of young people. They need proper support and training and they need it fast. That’s why Scottish Labour’s promise of investment in a Future Jobs Fund is so important. But meantime we need to support Unison’s campaign to restore funding for training in Edinburgh. I’ll be meeting Unison in the next few days. You can add your voice to the campaign by signing the petition to SNP ministers John Swinney and Alex Neil at http://www.petition.co.uk/save-edinburgh-jobless-services