Swingeing cuts on the cards

28th September 2012 at 01:00
North Lanarkshire published plans for a severe schedule of savings

North Lanarkshire Council has published plans for swingeing cuts - with education taking the brunt.

Compulsory redundancies are possible in learning and leisure, while other savings may come from reducing management posts and supply and cracking down on sickness absence.

Various proposals would reduce the unpromoted teaching workforce, and probationers may be asked to step into the shoes of experienced teachers.

The document is expected to be the first of many budget plans from local authorities in the coming months, as councils contend with squeezes on spending from Westminster and Holyrood.

John Stodter, general secretary of education directors' body ADES, said: "A lot of councils see themselves getting through this financial year but are planning for significant reductions for the next three years to come."

North Lanarkshire, the fourth-largest Scottish authority by population, aims to cut pound;73.3 million in the three years from 2013-14

Learning and leisure has been targeted for pound;42.6 million of potential savings, which officials concede "will have a very significant impact on the service and its provision". The workforce is to be reduced by 628 full-time equivalent posts, or 10 per cent, a process which may include "restructures, vacancy management, retirement, voluntary severance and compulsory redundancy".

Council officials have proposed a reduction of 24 management posts in secondary schools, to save pound;1.5 million over a three-year period; pound;201,000 would be saved by reducing five primary management posts.

A review of the ratio of management to unpromoted posts in primary and secondary could save another pound;1.4 million. Probationers may be asked to step into posts previously filled by experienced teachers - saving pound;640,000 over the same time.

Reconfiguring the secondary timetable as a 33-period week - equating to 48 fewer full-time posts - would save pound;1.9 million, while maximising primary class sizes translates as 26 fewer posts, or pound;1.1 million.

A 10 per cent reduction in teachers' sickness absence cover, followed by a further 10 per cent reduction from 2015-16, accounts for pound;505,000.

Permanent supply posts are in line to fall by 22, saving pound;1.37 million, while pound;1.52 million would be saved by shedding 36 posts in support for learning.

A review of classroom assistants and additional support needs assistants suggests pound;2.5 million, or 121 posts, could be saved.

Early years teachers within primary classes may be replaced by early years workers, saving pound;819,000 - 69 full-time jobs.

Senior officials, too, may become scarcer, with the loss of three posts working out as pound;345,000.

Council chief executive Gavin Whitefield said: "I would emphasise that the package of options does not represent decisions, proposals or plans. I recognise that many of the options are extremely unpalatable but we have a duty to balance our budget."

North Lanarkshire is expected to begin a public consultation on 1 October. The council will decide on savings by December.


Other proposed cuts on the table

- Various school closures - secondary "rationalisation" alone could save pound;1.84m.

- Review of ASN assistants: pound;312,000, 15 posts.

- Review of technician support: pound;564,000, 17 posts.

- Quality improvement reconfigured, including loss of six teachers: pound;424K, 8 posts.

- Close all nurture groups: pound;483,000, 15 posts.

- Close all 70 breakfast clubs: pound;280,000, nine posts.

- End primary swimming lessons, or introduce charges: pound;110,000.

- Close "ageing" swimming pools in six secondaries - saving pound;93,000 - and perhaps level them off to create dance studios.

- Reduce by 30 per cent payments to college providers for vocational education programmes in secondaries: pound;200,000, 1 post.

- Various options for music instruction, including losing four instructors or increasing charges from pound;150 per year to pound;288: pound;152,000.

- Only open nursery centres in term-time: pound;338,000.

- Devolved CPD cut of 10 per cent: pound;200,000.

Original print headline: Council's war on spending leaves schools under fire

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