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MORAY COUNCIL HAVE been called upon to drop their budget plans to reduce the provision of school libraries by half – a move being described as ‘educational vandalism’.
The call comes from Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who pointed out that since the Conservative-led Administration at Moray Council published their proposals they have been promised £2million more in Scottish Government funding than they had anticipated.
Now the MSP is calling on Councillors to use some of that extra provision to drop their proposed cuts to education, including plans to make half of its school librarians redundant.
Saying he is not alone in calling this proposed cut into question, Mr Lochhead points to the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) who have urged the Moray Council to withdraw this proposal. They pointed to the ongoing development by the Scottish Government of a national strategy for school libraries, which is due to be launched in August.
Mr Lochhead, who has discussed the Moray Council’s budget with Chief Executive, Roddy Burns, and Director of Education, Laurence Findlay, shares the concerns of CILIPS around the negative effect these proposals would have on efforts to improve literacy and cut the attainment gap.
The MSP said: “Whilst I recognise the serious financial challenges facing the Moray Council, now that they are to receive an extra £2m from the Scottish Government, I think it is vital that they use that cash to protect school services, including maintaining a librarian in each secondary school, and removing the other proposed cuts in our schools such as to school technicians.
“School librarians and the role a of school library is absolutely vital for pupils in Moray and if the Council is serious about improving literacy and closing the attainment gap, then they must retain a full time, qualified librarian in all of our secondary schools.
“Right now the Scottish Government is developing a national strategy for school libraries, which I think demonstrates just how important school libraries are to a child’s education. With that in mind, I think it’s only right that the Council drops this proposal and waits for the strategy to be published before taking any decisions around changes to school library provision locally.
“At a time when public finances are stretched tough decisions do need to be taken, but education should absolutely be the Council’s top priority.
“Making cuts to support staff in our schools, to school librarians and technicians, will do nothing to help attract teaching staff to work in our schools at a time when recruitment is very challenging, so I’m urging the Council to move quickly to remove these propose cuts – anything else would be educational vandalism.”
For Council response see http://www.insidemoray.com/conservative-council-group-leader-responds-to-snp-msp-criticism/