Dumfries and Galloway’s Labour Council has cut the number of teachers in local schools – despite being given extra funds by the Scottish Government to maintain them.
The council was one of just a handful of local authorities – all Labour – who let the side down by failing to maintain teacher numbers at the same level as 2014, official figures this week revealed.
Dumfries and Galloway was one of just five councils that saw numbers slip – from 1520 to 1504.
The council was criticised by Joan McAlpine MSP – who previously campaigned against the administration’s controversial decision to withdraw learning support from children with additional needs.
Ms McAlpine said: “This is sheer incompetence on Labour’s watch and it’s our children who will suffer. Dumfries and Galloway Labour’s track record on education is terrible. All they had to do was keep numbers steady and they failed.”
She added: “Parents will be asking what Labour in Dumfries and Galloway have done with the central government money they were given to maintain teacher numbers. But this is nothing new. The Labour council previously targeted the most vulnerable children by cutting the funding for learning support.”
All councils were given additional money by John Swinney to maintain teacher numbers at 2014 levels. The SNP finance secretary allocated an additional £10m to maintain numbers this year, on top of £41 extra million in previous years.
The council could now be forced to return the money it was allocated for teacher employment because it has failed to spend it as intended.
Ms McAlpine said:
“Dumfries and Galloway Labour’s incompetence is breath-taking. It’s almost as if they wanted to pick a fight with the Scottish Government – and didn’t care who suffered as a result. It is terrible to play politics with children’s education in this way.
“It stands in stark contrast to the Scottish Government’s commitment to raise attainment in schools – teacher numbers are key to this.
“All councils are facing pressures and all were given additional funding. While the vast majority still met their commitment on teacher numbers, a small number of Labour-led councils, including D&G are letting the side down.
“Why is this? Yet again, Labour are saying one thing in opposition in the Scottish Parliament, and doing something entirely different where they are in power locally.”