An Inverness primary school has had a class cut and lost a teacher less than a month into the new term, sparking deep concern within the school community.
Milton of Leys primary school classes have undergone a reorganisation, with a probationary teacher gone and classes cut from 14 to 13.
Parents learned of the changes by letter from the head teacher Meg Sneddon.
The school roll has fallen from 357 last year to 354.
She said: “We have … been advised that we have to work within the guidelines issued in the budget-saving briefing highlighting that there are a £3.5 million savings which is to be delivered by re-basing all school staffing allocations across primary, secondary and ASN schools to ensure transparency and fairness in allocations following national class size guidance and removing all ad-hoc allocations to ensure stable staffing within our communities.”
She described the process of transition to the new structure as challenging and said she recognised the impact this would have on all children, parents and the community.
Parents took to social media to express their concerns, saying they were ‘livid’ and calling it ‘an absolute joke’ and ‘an absolute disgrace’, and asking why they had not been consulted.
Highland Council said it was a routine operational change.
A council spokeswoman said: “Every year Highland classes are re-configured after the summer holidays when families move into or out of an area.
“In consultation with head teachers it was agreed that reconfiguration would best support learning and teaching if determined at the end of week one, following the start of the new school session, enabling school staff levels to be finalised and parents and pupils could settle to the rest of session with assurance that classes were settled.
“In this case, the numbers fell below what was required for 14 teachers and so a teacher had to be moved.”
Local councillor Ken Gowans said he had had numerous reports of children in tears and said it was a direct result of pressures on budgets.
He said: “Reconfiguration is normal. But not this scale and without notice or discussion with parents in order provide reassurance the quality of the learning experience will not be diminished.
“This is also unsettling for the staff who may need to prepare new resources and pupils who have resettle into the school.
“This is a direct result of the pressures on budgets, and budget-related incidents are likely to become more frequent as constraints are applied across the school system.
“The council needs to improve its communication and consultation with all stakeholders and partners.”
Dr James Vance, interim head of education, said: “This is a routine operational change which is based on proper budget management and seeking to deliver budget savings. It also supports the consistency and equality head teachers and parents have been asking for.”