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Budget raid feared to pay rise

EDINBURGH schools ferreted away Pounds 1 million in their devolved budgets last year, the city's education convener revealed at last week's education committee.

Elizabeth Maginnis was opposing an Educational Institute of Scotland motion criticising council moves to claw back cash from schools to offset the higher than expected teachers' salary increase.

The council budgeted for a 2.5 per cent rise and is likely to fund the full 3 per cent award by raiding school budgets.

Mrs Maginnis said no decision had been taken but emphasised around Pounds 500,000 would make up the difference. Schools, she implied, could easily absorb the extra because of their reluctance to spend their full allocations. But George Rubienski, teachers' spokesman, warned that devolved budgets had been cut last year by 0.5 per cent for the same reason.

To impose a similar cut this year was the equivalent of every secondary axing one full-time post. Mr Rubienski appealed for the administration to fund the pay gap centrally.

"So much for devolved school management. How can schools plan?" he protested.

Mr Rubienski said: "From the school perspective, more and more demands are coming from the Government but there are more and more attacks on teachers. I warm to political parties that talk about change from the bottom up."

Parents had been misled over the Labour administration's claim of no cuts in mainstream education. "I do not deny money has been put into education but it's in there for specific purposes to deliver particular reforms. If we are going to remove money with the other hand, it is going to affect developments, " he said.

Mrs Maginnis accused him of "grandstanding". Some Pounds 10 million extra had gone into education and every school had benefited. Paul Williamson, vice-convener, said schools had had a 6 per cent rise. Keith Geddes, the council's leader, said schools had doubled spending on books and materials.

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