Parent councils unite across Fife to halt ‘damaging’ school budget cuts

Balwearie parents launch petition against education budget cuts
Balwearie parents launch petition against education budget cuts

Parents across Fife have  have joined together in a bid to stop budget cuts hitting classrooms.

In an unprecedented move, eight parent councils at schools across the Kingdom have united to send a joint statement to Fife Council urging it to halt “damaging” cuts to the education budget.

The call came from Balwearie High School, Kirkcaldy; Bell Baxter, Cupar;  Glenwood, Inverkeithing, Levenmouth Academy, Madras College, Queen Anne,  and Waid Academy.

The parent councils raised concerns that a limited course choice would restrict children who aren’t academically minded from getting the most out of schooL.

The joint statement said:  “We believe the scale of the cuts over the next two years means that educational quality for young people will be reduced below an acceptable minimum.

“These budget cuts will materially damage the educational outcomes for all our young people, creating larger, more expensive problems in the future with an ill equipped workforce, with less mental resilience.

“We would like to know how these false economies are justified by our elected representatives in Fife Council.

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“Although we recognise that Fife Council has to make difficult spending decisions, these cuts are so large that they will have a fundamental impact on all our secondary schools, now and in the long term.”

High cost practical subjects like home economics and craft, design, and technology could be cut, with art, music and drama also facing the chop.

Queen Anne High School is also faced with cutting the entire business management course.

In a joint statement, co-leaders of Fife Council, David Alexander and David Ross, said: “The cost of Education and Children’s Services accounts for around half our budget.

“Over the years we have protected spend on education, but like every other service provided by the Council, education has to take a share of the savings we are required to make. To protect education completely would mean virtually wiping out many other vital Council services.

“The Council still spends over £350m on education, and when making savings within this overall budget, the Council always considers what it can do that will have the least impact on the quality of teaching and learning for our young people.

“The changes we make in delivering education in our schools are designed as far as possible to protect and enhance the quality of education in Fife. Some of this will mean changes in practice for pupils and teachers, but the aim is always to retain choice and opportunity for our young people, even if this is in a different way from in the past.”

Councillor Fay Sinclair, convenor of the Education and Children’s Services Committee, said: “We’d like to thank the Parent Councils of Fife for taking the time to provide us with such well thought out feedback and we will be responding to them directly.

“The points they have raised here, along with the information we have had from staff and school management, will help us as we prepare next year’s budget.”

Emma Oneill , Local Democracy Reporting Service