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Glasgow Council hammers nail into vital project's coffin


Budget slashed by half despite warnings the vulnerable young will suffer

Council threats to cut funding to a hugely successful mentoring project have come to fruition with councillors slashing its budget by half.

Both SNP and Scottish Greens councillors voted to slash funding to the MCR Pathways scheme with the cash saved going to fund salaries of teaching staff in schools.

Campaigners have been fighting to stop the cuts since February but to no avail.

The cuts mean every school will have the equivalent of half a full time MCR Pathways coordinator - but to maintain a dedicated one they must pay for the service with pupil equity funding.

Pupil equity funding helps schools support children who experience barriers to learning or not getting the same chances in their education because their family is experiencing poverty or other financial difficulties.

This money is given to schools as part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Attainment Challenge.

Iain MacRitchie, the businessman and entrepreneur who founded MCR Pathways in 2007, said: “I am really disappointed we couldn’t retain all the funding necessary to support the 2,000 young people who need it.

“However, we will work with the council to find ways to make sure that the service can continue to be functional.”

Conservative councillor and former headteacher John Daly warned that pupil equity funding would have to be withdrawn from other work to bolster mentoring while Labour councillor Jill Pidgeon moved an amendment that funding "for MCR Pathways continues for this year."

The party's amendment asked for a service review, including an equality impact assessment and consultation with trade unions, parents' groups, MCR Pathway co-ordinators and teens benefiting from the service.

But the amendment seconded by Glasgow party leader George Redmond was rejected during a vote at the city administration committee last week.

Earlier this year business and civic leaders involved in the scheme warned that the plans to cut funding would be “catastrophic” and that the authority would be abdicating its responsibilities if the savings were introduced.

Their concerns were later echoed by a senior judge, Lady Rae, who wrote to the city council urging them to reconsider the cuts.

She wrote: “The assistance I seek is to right a wrong which risks writing off this generation and future generations of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged young people. What that support does for young people is just amazing. It helps many move forward with hope for their future, to realise that they can achieve goals.”

Councillor Christina Cannon, SNP, convenor for education, said: "Despite our budget process the MCR Pathways will be delivered at schools throughout the city."

Pam Duncan-Glancy, MSP for the Glasgow region, has written to council leader Susan Aitken to ask that she reconsider before the council finishes for the summer break.

Duncan-Glancy said: “I have written to Councillor Susan Aitken in a last ditch effort to save this invaluable service and the hard working co-ordinators who work so diligently with pupils who need it. The first minister, John Swinney recognised the value of MCR Pathways in parliament recently, but at the same time his SNP Councillors, helped by the Greens, were voting to cut it.

"The SNP and Greens have ignored parents, teachers and mentors till now, but as parents, pupils and staff take to the streets, I’m calling on Councillor Aitken to save the programme. If she doesn’t, people of Glasgow will not forget their abject failure."



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