Truancy jobs could be posted missing

Workers demonstrated last month against proposed council cuts.
Workers demonstrated last month against proposed council cuts.

Efforts to tackle truancy will be undermined if plans to axe North Lanarkshire Council’s school attendance officers are approved this week.

The warning comes from GMB Scotland which also says the loss of 130 classroom assistant jobs would have a “catastrophic” effect.

The trade union has spoken out ahead of the council’s budget meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at which massive cuts are expected to balance the books.

GMB Scotland said it found that unauthorised absence in North Lanarkshire schools was cut from 482,569 days in 2010 to 294,195 days in 2015.

However, the good work is “under threat” as all 12 of the attendance officers who support head teachers in managing pupil attendance and absence could lose their jobs.

The GMB also said the number of pupils with learning disabilities and special needs in the area has risen from 3,036 in 2010 to 4,154 last year.

However, with 1,150 jobs set to go in the budget, the council could cut the number of classroom assistants by 50 per cent.

Paul Grieve, GMB Scotland regional organiser, said: “What is happening in North Lanarkshire shows exactly what the Scottish Government’s cuts to local authority budgets mean to real people. The proposed cuts in education are horrendous and will have a real impact on young people’s opportunity to get the best out of the education system.

“The slashing of more than 130 classroom assistant jobs, despite an increase in the number of pupils with learning disabilities and special needs, will have a devastating and catastrophic impact on the education of thousands of pupils and teachers who rely on the dedicated support offered by classroom assistants.

“Unauthorised absence reduction has been a success in North Lanarkshire - a huge reduction of more than 188,000 days from 2010 to 2015. This success is due, in part, to attendance officers. One of the budget proposals is to save £292,000 by scrapping all 12 posts.”

The council stressed decisions on savings have yet to be made.

A spokesman said: “Due to Government cuts to our budget and rising demand for our services, we have no choice but to make substantial savings over the coming year.

“We published options to make these savings and carried out a full public consultation. A decision on these savings options is likely to be made by councillors this week.”