The Impact of Budget Cuts

The Impact of Budget Cuts

Understandably, the revelation of local authority budget cuts and proposed reductions in teacher numbers has not been at all well received by those working in schools.  The cuts present a disconcerting and discouraging outlook for the future of education, especially in providing crucial support for learners to reach their full potential. Nationwide discussions on cuts have left teachers and leadership teams disillusioned about the pathway for our learners to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors, and responsible citizens.

Members are deeply concerned about the planned budget reductions in Glasgow (these have been widely covered in the media) and across various local authorities. In just the past day, I've been in contact with several Headteachers who express profound worry about the upcoming years and the potential impact on an entire generation of children. Proposed cuts pose a significant threat to Scottish Government priorities such as raising attainment, improving attendance, and supporting the overall well-being of children, families, and staff teams.

The funding cuts risk derailing the positive trajectory that many authorities have been on both before and after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The simultaneous increase in the need for additional support, coupled with decreasing resources, presents a formidable challenge in Scottish Primary Schools. Our members stress that additional support is a top priority, requiring substantial investment. However, the current trend reflects cuts to staffing, budgets, and essential services like speech and language support and educational psychology.

The surge in demand for additional support needs is straining existing resources, necessitating increased investment to ensure sufficient assistance for children with diverse learning needs. Budget reductions will impact the availability of teachers providing tailored support for children with additional needs.

Members also express concern that the current financial climate is jeopardizing a holistic approach to education, with cuts affecting not only targeted support services but also broader initiatives that promote the overall wellbeing and support to children.

Urgency is stressed for increased investment in supporting Additional Support Needs to meet the growing demands and challenges, emphasising the essential commitment to these strategies for the wellbeing and success of all children in Scottish Schools.

These cuts will affect all children, not just those with additional support needs. It will impact the school's ability to support mainstream education and effectively plan and deliver the same level of service for children with additional support needs, directly affecting the 'getting it right for every child' agenda. With the proposed cuts, local authorities and the Scottish Government must recognise that School Leadership teams will prioritise what they deem important, and the school's operation will require prioritisation over the Scottish Government's Stretch Aims requests, Attainment Paperwork, and available supports to children and families.

Preparation is needed for a potential increase in distressed and dysregulated behaviours with fewer staff to plan, support, and implement strategies for children. Consequently, there may be an increase in exclusions to support planning time, and risk assessments requiring modification to effectively and safely support children.

As Scottish Schools are witnessing an increase in distressed and violent incidents, as recognised by the Scottish Government in the BISSR Reports and recent Relationships and Behaviour in Schools summits, it is essential for local authorities and the Scottish Government to plan to support schools with a reduced staff team, as incidents may no longer be manageable within the school setting. There may also need to be an understanding that part-time timetables and similar supports become more regular to aid children.

With proposed cuts to management teams, families will also be impacted, with fewer staff likely resulting in less opportunity to meet and address parent and carer issues in a timely manner, as staff are based within classrooms. Cuts to management teams will impede the implementation of staged intervention plans and hinder the necessary support for children's learning needs in Scottish primary schools, potentially compromising the overall educational experience for children.

We strongly urge local and central government to collaborate in averting cuts to school funding and staffing as a matter of urgency. The Scottish Government's pledge to protect teacher numbers appears to be neither a priority nor achievable based on projected budgets. With more cuts proposed year on year for the next period, Scottish Education and the supports children can access will significantly impact a generation of children who have already suffered due to the Covid years.

It is evident that with reduced staffing levels, resources, and management personnel, no establishment will be able to offer the same level of support currently in place. The increase in numbers of children on staged intervention will directly impact attainment, attendance, and achievements, not forgetting the profound impact on every one of Scotland's children.

Jonathan Cunningham, Vice-President, AHDS