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At a meeting in Edinburgh today (Friday 27th January) Scotland’s Council Leaders expressed their extreme disappointment that the Cabinet had decided to make interventions in relation to minimum learning hours and pupil teacher ratio.

Council Leaders were clear that given the Scottish Budget for next year, there is a crisis in Local Government funding like never before and the reaction from Scottish Government so far does not reflect the crisis councils, and our communities are facing.

Council Leaders reiterated the limited options facing Local Government as a result of the Budget, now made worse by Scottish Government’s intentions around teacher numbers and the hours children spend in school.

Commenting in a joint statement COSLA Spokespeople Katie Hagmann (Resources) and Tony Buchanan (Children and Young People) said:  “This is an unnecessary and unwanted attack and intervention on our democratic mandate as elected politicians in our own right. We are seeing potentially unworkable proposals foisted on us without any prior discussion or consultation with Local Government – proposals we will be seeking legal advice on.

“We believe the teacher census information, which can only ever be a single snapshot in time, does not present the whole picture. It does not reflect that the attainment gap is moving in a positive direction or that we have recruited between August- December 620 teachers permanently and a further 400+ on either a temporary or fixed term basis.

“We have already written to Scottish Government with robust evidence of the investment that councils have been making in teaching and pupil support staff.  We’ve also highlighted the impact that the proposals will have across other council services, with cuts and job losses having to once again be taken from already hard pressed everyday essential service like roads, libraries, and waste.

“It is very disappointing that it has come to this, but we have been honest and upfront with Scottish Government throughout the Budget process. Our budget lobbying and in particular ‘Education SOS’ (attached) made clear the potential impacts on education services prior to the budget announcement, given the pressure of £1bn that exists for Local Government.

“This move will not stop councils from being forced to make reductions in the support we provide to children and young people. Local authorities will have to consider cutting pupil support staff, libraries, youth work and other vital services that support the attainment, health and wellbeing of children and young people.”