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Holyrood backs Labour calls to block education cuts

THE SNP Scottish government has faced its first major defeat of the Swinney era as opposition parties united today to call for an end to education cuts.

As teachers, trade unionists and students in Glasgow prepared to rally in the SNP council leader Susan Aitken’s Langside ward to fight her administration’s decision to axe 172 teaching jobs this year and 450 over the next three, MSPs debated a Labour motion to intervene.

Education spokeswoman Pamela Duncan-Glancy called for the Scottish government to step in to halt the cuts across the country.

She told MSPs: “Teachers are being expected to do far more work in far less time and with far less support from the government and we are seeing the consequences of that.

“It is unacceptable that the goodwill of teachers is all that is retaining teachers now.

“Axing teachers’ jobs and not supporting staff has consequences.

“We know that it will hit the disadvantaged students hardest.

“These cuts are not based on an assessment of what’s best for children.

“The cuts are a consequence of 17 years of failure to properly fund local authorities.”

In response, SNP Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth told the chamber that “£145.5 million had been ringfenced in funding to maintain teacher numbers.” 

But, perhaps understanding the likely outcome, she reached out to colleagues across the chamber saying: “Minority government gives new opportunity to adapt government policy.”

All opposition parties backed the Labour motion, including the Greens.

But fresh from them leaving government, their education spokesman Ross Greer challenged Labour: “If the Labour Party want more spending, they need to indicate where they would support tax rises.”

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