Schools forced to spend teaching funds on bills

A PRIMARY school will be forced to pay for heating with money which should be going towards pupils' education after it emerged budget cuts would lead to a £19,000 fuel bills shortfall.

Parents campaigning against slashing budgets have issued new warnings to council chiefs that further cuts will also mark the end of specialist music and PE teachers and lead to basic stationery supplies running out.

Members of the Edinburgh Parent Council Network (EPCN) have gathered evidence and produced a document to show how budget cuts over the next few years will have a "catastrophic" impact.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They warn that every aspect of education provision will be affected, from learning assistants being axed to headteachers being forced to spend more time teaching than managing schools.

They also say that cuts will impact on even the most basic things such as heating and the ability to carry out repairs to crumbling school buildings.

At Gracemount Primary, the proposed heating budget for 2010-11 has been set at just 17,000, when the real cost of heating the building is more than 36,000.

The parent council said: "On that basis, the school could only afford to open half the winter months. In reality, funding which should be earmarked for school improvement activities will be used to pay the essential utility bills."

Meanwhile, Broughton High School's parent council has highlighted the squeeze on basic supplies, saying stationery will run out before the end of the year.

At Broughton Primary, the parent council says the average available spend per pupil on resources such as jotters and papers has reduced from 80 to just 22.

EPCN has prepared the new document to highlight exactly how the proposed cuts of 2.5 per cent over the coming year and further cuts in future years will affect pupils in the Capital.

The initial cuts would reduce budgets by 111,000 for a large secondary school and around 20,000 for a primary.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Parents say many staff are already working "unsustainable" hours to cope with current pressures, while learning assistant hours are already being cut and visiting specialists such as PE and music teachers will be axed.

They say parents are having to foot the bill for basics such as jotters, books, chairs and even window cleaning.

Jerry Forde, chair of Boroughmuir High and Morningside Primary parent councils, said: "We did not expect that we would be required to not only prop up a failing education system, but that we would be the only ones to have spotted that it is all going horribly wrong."

Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, the city's education leader, said: "There are a number of suggestions for each council department now being considered by political parties. We are working hard to protect frontline services."