Glasgow secondary school mentoring service to have its budget cut

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A Glasgow mentoring service for schools will see its council budget cut, with headteachers expected to use money from other funding to maintain full time staff in secondary schools.

SNP and Scottish Greens councillors voted to reduce the level of funding to the MCR Pathways scheme but officials insist the numbers of children getting one to one mentoring will remain the same.

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.

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The service makes sure vulnerable pupils including kids in care get support from a mentor. Yesterday, Labour politicians backed by a Conservative councillor tried to delay the cut, which will come into force from August.

 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

There were concerns headteachers have to divert pupil equity funding from other projects to maintain mentoring levels. That fund aims to help pupils from deprived neighbourhoods achieve more at school.

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

She said it is important mentors can continue to support young people and stressed how the administration had to set a balanced budget.

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Conservative councillor and former headteacher John Daly raised the issue that the pupil equity funding would have to be withdrawn from other work to bolster mentoring.

Mentioning how MCR Pathways supports 2,000 vulnerable children every year, Labour councillor Jill Pidgeon said: “It is untrue there will not be a reduction in the (mentoring) service” and she pointed out other services within schools will lose out.

Councillor Cannon said the option chosen strikes the balance as the recent budget was the most challenging faced by councillors.

She added: “It is not our job to decide what headteachers spend their pupil equity funding on.”

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The majority of councillors voted to invest funding of £311,300 for MCR Pathways for 2024 to 2025.

Labour councillor 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.

The amendment seconded by Glasgow party leader George Redmond was rejected during a vote at today’s city administration committee.

Scottish Greens councillor Jon Molyneux proposed an amendment seconded by councillor Martha Wardrop, which was accepted by the SNP.

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Councillor Molyneux said: ““Green councillors tabled an amendment which ensured that one-to-one mentoring support, which is the core of the MCR Pathways programme, can continue in every mainstream secondary school in Glasgow, with no reduction in the level of that support. Young people who will benefit from mentor relationships will continue to have that opportunity.

“After 10 years, this was the right time to review the MCR Pathways service, especially in context of other programmes which have emerged in that time. Undertaking this review in order to give certainty to schools and staff before schools break up for the summer has taken a huge effort from officers and partners. Green councillors have worked hard to interrogate different options and engage with partners.”

Among issues raised  in the Green amendment it called for “further and meaningful engagement with MCR Pathways to consider practical implementation” of the approved option for the service.

It said it “notes assurance from officers that they foresee no reduction in the number of children receiving one-to-one mentoring, and believes that this point specifically, and the new service delivery model in general, should be subject to regular monitoring and evaluation with reports to go to the Service Redesign and Future Income Generation Political Oversight Group.”

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