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It was agreed by the Council, when setting its budget in February, to remove the historic local arrangements for one teacher class sizes being capped at 19, applying the national class composition criteria, moving the criteria to 25 as agreed by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, the tripartite body comprising members from teaching organization, Local Authorities and the Scottish Government. The refocus of the Supporting Learners Service will prioritise the need for schools to deliver more direct additional support for children with the highest needs.
The Council agreed to put on hold the implementation of the new Community Initiatives Enablement Fund of £285,000 until it is established by the July meeting of CYPLL whether additional funding will be needed to mitigate the effect of budget savings.
Councillor Jeff Leaver, Chair of the CYPLL committee, said: “Providing the best start in life for all our children and protecting our most vulnerable people are priorities for our Council. We fully understand how important education is for our young people and for the Dumfries and Galloway Region. No-one wants to make savings in education, but we’re faced with unprecedented budget pressures. Since austerity was introduced in 2010/11, our Council has had to make savings to its annual revenue budget of £96m, equating to 27% of the annual spend. This year, even after raising Council Tax, we must still make savings of £10.2m. And, to add to this dire position the anticipated level of forthcoming cuts over the next 2 financial years of £33 million means that this will be even more challenging. We are doing all that we can to preserve front-line teaching resources and make education provision fair and equitable for pupils all across our region.”
Councillor Ros Surtees, vice chair, said: “No-one comes into local government seeking to jeopardise children’s education. We want to provide the very best education possible. But, we’ve got no choice in having to make the best of reducing financial resources and, unfortunately, some very tough decisions must be made in the interests of all. Today, we agreed to review a couple of the education budget savings and delay implementing the Community Initiatives Fund to ensure that, should it be needed, there is money available to mitigate the effects of these budget savings.”