Fife teachers at ‘tipping point’ with workload pressures’

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Fife’s education union spokesman has urged the council to rethink cuts budget cuts, after telling them that teachers in Fife were at a “tipping point”.

At Fife Council’s budget meeting, David Farmer from Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) asked councillors to rethink more than £1.4m in cuts to the service which will see bigger primary classroom sizes and the axe falling on principal posts in secondaries.

Cuts will also me made to supply teacher budgets.

Mr Farmer said: “Fifers have a strong sense of community, and I know that sense has been tested many times, but I believe, as someone living in this community, that it has prevailed.

“Surely one of the pillars for that community sense is concern for our children and for their future. Some of the proposals in this budget make that another test.

“In the proposals that have been rejected, there is a great deal that we find to commend. We’re very happy that pupil support assistant numbers are not going to be cut – if that was the case, our schools literally couldn’t function.

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“The decision not to cut the instrumental music service, which is a service comprised entirely of our members, is one that we welcome. We hope that in the future, we can get into discussions with the council, not just about maintaining that service, but about enhancing it.”

He said schools were at the heart of their communities, but they now sat at a “tipping point.”

He continued: “The proposal to increase class sizes in primary schools is a recipe for disaster. Our primary teachers are already right on the edge in terms of workload pressures, resources and behaviour management. I don’t think the remedy for those scenarios is to make things worse.

“Increasing class sizes in our primary schools will do just that. How does overburdening our already overburdened teachers provide any benefit for our children?

“In the secondary sector, removing a number of promoted posts, is equally disastrous. It means more work for everybody in schools, where workload is already an issue, and stress has produced a higher number of absences among staff.

“It means that potentially curriculum choice for kids will be reduced, issues around behaviour will become harder to address, and, at a time where there is a recruitment issue for Scottish teachers, actually restricting the promotion prospects is just plain daft.”

Mr Farmer said the loss of principal teachers had affected morale “ quite severely” adding: “There is general head scratching about what is going on here. They understand that, in the austerity climate, that education is as big a target for savings as anywhere else, but in a moral sense, its been debilitating.”