Fears over proposed cuts to Fife education

David Alexander
David Alexander

A teaching union has voiced concerns about proposed cuts to Fife’s education service ahead of next month’s Fife Council budget meeting.

Fife EIS is worried music tuition in the Kingdom could ‘effectively end’ in the wake of decisions made – despite being given assurances this won’t happen by Fife Council’s SNP co-leader David Alexander.

The union also fears for the future delivery of early years education following a proposal to cut the number of nursery teachers.

But Fife Council has insisted the suggestions are just options at this stage and have been put forward for elected members to look at as part of the budget process.

Last month councillor Alexander said the proposal to cut music tuition had already been rejected by councillors, although he wouldn’t comment on other items being put forward for consideration.

This week he said: “Given the majority the administration has, we can be pretty certain that music tuition will not appear as a saving. However, that doesn’t mean though that officers will now delete it from consideration by other political parties. All these options, still remain options until the final budget is approved on February 22.”

In a statement released by David Farmer, Fife EIS publicity officer, he said: “Despite the public intervention of councillor Alexander, officers of the council have not withdrawn the proposed cut in the music service, including the loss of 16.8 FTE posts, from their 21 proposed cuts. This would effectively end music tuition as well as orchestras and bands in Fife primary and secondary schools.”

Mr Farmer continued: “Fife EIS simply cannot understand how reducing access to an early years teacher, fits with the values espoused by the Scottish Government of early years teachers being at the heart of the delivery of early years education.

“The proposed cut will reduce the number of early years teachers by five ... their role in enabling young children to access the earliest parts of the curriculum and in empowering those children to achieve is absolutely pivotal.”

Shelagh McLean, head of education and children’s services at Fife Council, said: “These are options put forward as part of a change plan for consideration by elected members.

“Officers are not in a position to withdraw these as they are part of a working document, decisions on which will be determined through the budget process.”