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174 Midlothian teachers face the axe

Monday January 23rd 2023

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A total of 174 teachers could lose their jobs over the next five years in Midlothian under budget cuttings proposals – which would see more than 30 let go in the coming year.

Midlothian Council has published a detailed list of proposals it is considering as it faces a £14.5 million gap in its funding.

And it says reducing teacher posts could save it more than £6 million in the years ahead.

The proposal to axe jobs in schools is the equivalent of getting rid of all the staff in two secondary schools – and then 24 more.

The draft budget proposals says: “Education represents 45% of the overall council budget, off which 60% relates to teachers’ salaries.

“Within education, there is very little flexibility to find efficiencies of the required scale other than staffing numbers. With the scale of efficiencies, the reduction in non-teaching staff is insufficient to bridge the funding gap.

“Over the five years, we would need to reduce the teaching staff by 174 teachers. For context, the average teachers in a secondary school is 75.”

The proposals are among dozens of options which will be put before councillors next week, with no decisions made until the meeting.

As well as cutting teaching staff, school librarians could be axed in secondary schools, with proposals to reduce the instrumental music service to offer only as much as Scottish Government funding pays for.

There are also proposals to close St Matthew’s RC Primary School, in Rosewell, increase the distance secondary pupils live from school from two miles to three before they qualify for free travel and scrapping swimming lessons for Primary 4 children.

The proposal also include savings of £2m over the next three years by “redesigning the primary week” and revising the secondary school curriculum.

A council spokesperson said the redesign would be “largely about reducing the need for cover while teachers have non class contact time – this is the time teachers use for work such as professional development, marking and lesson preparation.”

The council says that it is estimated by 2027/28 the budget gap they face could rise to £27million unless drastic action is taken.

It is also proposing introducing self-service public libraries, scrapping school crossing patrols from traffic lights and zebra crossing and withdrawing funding for Christmas lights.

Council leader Kelly Parry said: “We’ve never faced this scale of cuts before and we’re having to consider taking very, very unpalatable decisions we know will have a huge impact on our communities and our staff.

“However, we must, by law, set a balanced budget.”

A high level description of the savings proposals have been published on the council website HERE. And a detailed description of the 49 proposals can be read HERE.

The council has invited feedback on the proposals, either by emailing HaveYourSay@midlothian.gov.uk
or feedback on line here.

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