By Monica Gibson

Union officials are preparing to fight nearly £10million worth of education cuts which they claim will dramatically hinder pupils’ attainment.

East Renfrewshire Council’s education department has proposed making £9.7m worth of cuts over the next three years.

Leaders of the East Renfrewshire branch of public sector trade union UNISON believe at least 150 posts will go in education alone – primarily aimed at school support staff, which includes pupil and behaviour support assistants, early years staff and technicians.

Headteachers are also being asked to identify a further £4.9m of savings, which UNISON says will have a major impact on classrooms.

Gordon Lees, education services convener for UNISON in East Renfrewshire, said: “We believe that, even if headteachers were to cut everything that they have control over in their devolved budget, they would still find it impossible to achieve the savings required.

“If these savings cannot be achieved, even bigger cuts will have to fall on service areas already identified.”

Mr Lees, who also works as a school technician, added: “Support staff make a massive contribution to the school.

“Ask any science, tech or multimedia teacher in a school and they’ll tell you that they simply couldn’t teach if it weren’t for the technicians setting up experiments and equipment in the classroom.”

Nicola Birrell, chair of UNISON’s East Renfrewshire branch, is also calling for a U-turn over the proposed cuts.

She said: “The Scottish Government have been waxing lyrical about reducing the attainment gap, while at the same time cutting the services required by our most disadvantaged communities.”

UNISON officials are asking members of the public to attend a demonstration against the cuts outside the council’s Eastwood headquarters from 6pm until 7pm on Wednesday, December 13.

Councillors will meet that night to discuss the proposed cuts.

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesman said no decisions on proposed service changes have yet been made – and pledged that residents’ views will be considered following a consultation.

He added: “The council is faced with making savings of around £26million over the next three years and, while we will continue to maximise efficiencies at every opportunity, this will not be enough to make the savings required.

“As a result, some of the proposals being put forward for consultation are extremely challenging. However, throughout this difficult process, the needs of those in our communities who are most vulnerable will continue to be our core focus.”

“No decisions have been made on proposed service changes that impact our residents and we will use the feedback from the options which have been out for consultation to consider any further steps we can take to mitigate the impact of the proposals.”

For more information, call the UNISON branch office on 0141 881 8257.