School pupils against teacher job cuts

Monday February 20th 2023


Lasswade High School, photograph by Lee Live.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Pupils at Lasswade High school have warned councillors cutting teaching jobs would have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on future generations of students.

The senior year from Lasswade High School are appealing to councillors not to push ahead with cuts of up to 174 teaching posts proposed for the next five years.

And in a letter to be put before councillors tomorrow their school captains say the move would take away the opportunities they have been given from future generations of youngsters.

The captains, who hope to attend the council meeting to present their case in person, say they represent the entire senior year of the school’s views on the cuts which are proposed over the next five years.

Their letter states “We cannot accept that we would be the last to experience an education that is prioritised by its council.

“Such a substantial reduction in staff would be catastrophic towards the experiences of future generations, and the face of all Midlothian school values and ideals.”

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

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.”

Lasswade High School is in the top 100 performing secondary schools in Scotland and the highest ranked in Midlothian in The Times Scottish Education League Table 2021.

In their letter to councillors, the senior Lasswade pupils argue the impact of the cuts will be even harder on more disadvantaged neighbouring schools.

They say: “We cannot bring ourselves as a community to see this drastic cut in staffing as an option, and dread to see what more disadvantaged schools will suffer as a result.

“The difference in background of our neighbouring schools already means there are many Midlothian young people facing huge challenges and further setbacks resulting from proposed options you are considering will fail the young people you work to uplift.

“Such changes proposed would mean significant steps backwards, when truly we need to remain united and optimistic in times of crisis.”

They appeal to councillors to hear them out at the meeting adding: “As young people we have a right to be heard, and we respectfully request that you allow us to share our views and ‘appeal’ to you at your meeting.

“Before you make what we know must be difficult decisions, we would like the opportunity to directly, and in-person, fulfil a duty to our school and Midlothian young people to share with you the importance of education.”

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