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Community workers axed

Glasgow has been forced to cut community education staffing by more than a third. Fifty staff are to go as spending is reduced by Pounds 1.23 million, on top of a 22.7 per cent reduction in the current year.

Adult and continuing education will be contracted out to FE colleges, universities and voluntary organisations. Youth work will be slimmed down.

Charlie McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Community Education Council, said Glasgow was out of step with virtually all other councils and warned there was now "no single Scottish model of community education".

Glasgow's predicament will be a main focus of an investigation into community education one year on from local government reform by the SCEC and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Ronnie O'Connor, Glasgow's senior depute director of education, accepted the council was "taking the model to the extreme" but had no option. The professional staffing complement will be cut from 143 to 93 and 27 out of 60 administrative posts will go.

The city hopes to redeploy community education staff in other departments since most are well under the age of 50.

Mr O'Connor, in a report to councillors, said a cut of Pounds 950,000 in professional staffing and Pounds 278,000 in administrative staffing come on top of substantial reductions every year for the past decade.

He advised: "Savings of this magnitude cannot be achieved without radically altering the priorities and methodology applied to the provision of adult education. Similarly, services for vulnerable young people in the city will feel the impact of very significant cuts in staffing and resources."

Areas of current provision will either be eliminated or substantially reduced, Mr O'Connor said. "The delivery of adult education will be subject to the most radical overhaul," he stated A 23-strong adult and continuing education team will take over responsibility for negotiating contracts with providers of courses and combine this role with monitoring quality. Around 66 workers will concentrate on youth work in eight delineated areas while picking up "cradle to the grave" activities as community education has always done. Mr O'Connor said there was a recognition that youth services had to be delivered locally.

Mr McConnell said: "This is a severe blow to community education, particularly against the backdrop of high levels of disadvantage and poverty. The reality is that tens of thousands of young people and adults will not get access to community-based learning."

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