Exclusive:Glasgow to face multimillion-pound penalty for cutting 172 teacher jobs, SNP minister says

Education secretary delivers clearest warning yet over £145.5m funding

Jenny Gilruth has told her SNP colleagues on Glasgow City Council they will face a multi-million-pound funding penalty unless they rethink teacher cuts.

The education secretary issued her clearest warning yet that the country’s largest local authority will not receive its share of a £145.5million pot of money without a U-turn.

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The money will only be released to councils across Scotland if they agree to commit to maintain teacher numbers.

SNP-led Glasgow City Council passed a budget in February which assumed it would receive this funding.

The decision came despite the same budget paving the way for the removal of 172 teaching posts this year, reducing by a total of 450 over the next three years.

Council umbrella body Cosla is still to sign up to the terms of a Scottish Government’s deal that would release the funding.

They fear it could lead to even deeper cuts to other services, particularly as talks continue on a new pay deal for teachers.

Ms Gilruth has previously signalled she will not back down, however, and went further during an online hustings hosted by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union on Thursday evening.

Her comments came after she was asked about a recent letter to Cosla, in which she said she wanted to to provide “reassurance” that the risk of losing all the funding for a “small reduction” in teacher numbers is “removed”. The education secretary said: “I’m sorry if you felt my statement to Cosla was ambiguous.

“I actually think it is really important that teachers understand my position on this, because I’ve had to make some really tough budget decisions in the past year, as we’ve heard over the course of the hustings this evening.

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“But my absolute focus as education secretary has been protecting this funding for teacher numbers, and I’m very clear that no local authority is going to receive that funding unless they agree to do so.”

Ms Gilruth added: “Glasgow has not received any funding from the Scottish Government and it will not receive any funding unless... any local authority looks again at the role of teacher numbers.

“We’re engaging with local authorities across the piece, and I know Cosla has a view on this.

“I don’t want to pick on one local authority per se, but it’s important to say that no local authority has yet received that funding, because they have not yet agreed to the conditions I have attached to it, which is that they maintain teacher numbers, because our teachers are so important.”

It could mean Glasgow City Council having to make fresh cuts to other services if it proceeds with reducing teacher numbers.

EIS members have also voted for strike action in Glasgow in a consultative ballot over the job losses.

Ms Gilruth’s latest intervention comes ahead of a major demonstration over education cuts in Glasgow on Monday.

A spokesperson for the SNP administration on the council said: “No local authority wants to be in the position of having to reduce numbers of teachers or any other staff group.

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“However we have made clear repeatedly to the Cabinet Secretary and other Scottish Government colleagues that the funding currently on offer from them is not enough to continue to maintain teacher numbers in Glasgow at exactly the same level without unacceptable impact on other parts of our local government workforce and the vital local services they deliver, which are just as important to the wellbeing of Glasgow’s children and young people.

“Glasgow has protected education budgets for 6 years and has delivered the best ever outcomes for our learners. Maintaining that success is our priority and that means ensuring our education service as a whole is sustainable in the years ahead.

 “We have already reached out to Scottish Government colleagues with practical suggestions for how they can help support Glasgow to address the unique challenges our city faces and we look forward to working constructively with them towards that goal. Withholding funding from Glasgow’s schools at this stage would be totally counterproductive and only exacerbate those challenges.”



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