Plans to drop city mentoring scheme will be catastrophic

Impact Report

Business and public-sector leaders who mentor disadvantaged pupils have warned that plans to cut funding to the MCR Pathways programme would be “catastrophic”.

Removing financial support for the project would have a “devastating effect” on educational outcomes, job opportunities and life chances for vul­nerable young people, the mentors say. In a letter to The Times, they are call­ing on Glasgow city council to abandon proposals to cut the programme’s fund­ing as part of a package of multi million pound cuts to the educational budget over the next three years. The mentors come from business, healthcare, acade­mia, law, music and charities. 

Among the 27 signatories are Scott McCroskie, chief executive of the Ed­rington Group; David Hillier, associate principal and executive dean of the Strathclyde Business School Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Sandy Begbie, chief executive of Scottish Fi­nancial Enterprise and chairman of Developing Young Workforce, which gives young people commercial skills. The letter says that the council would abdicate its responsibilities as a “corpo­rate parent” if it cut the MCR Pathways funding.

“Glasgow city council’s deci­sion to cut its funding for school-based co-ordinators working on the ground­breaking MCR Pathways pupil mento­ring programme is wrong in every way,” the letter says. ‘MCR supports the city’s most disadvantaged young people … removing this support will have a devastating impact on their education outcomes, job choices and life chances.” In a letter to Humza Yousaf, the first minister, and Jenny Gilruth, Scotland’s education secretary, Billie Mason, a teenager who has been in care, said she had “personally benefited from this in­valuable programme” and that MCR Pathways had been life-changing. 

“The programme not only provided me with the necessary support and gui­dance to navigate the complexities of education but also instilled in me a new-found sense of confidence and determination,” she wrote. “I firmly believe that MCR Pathways plays a crucial role in bridging the attainment gap in Glasgow.” 

Since it launched in 2007, MCR Pathways has helped thousands of pupils who had been in care and other vulnerable pupils achieve higher rates of attendance and attainment. If the cuts go ahead, nearly 2,000 pupils, including 800 in care, will lose their mentors in August, before the start of the new academic year. 

A council spokeswoman said a re­view of MCR mentoring coordinators was under way following the council budget last month. “Several options are being explored and no decision has been taken to stop the programme,” she said. A cross-party political oversight group has been established and we will keep staff and the relevant trade unions informed and updated of develop­ments. ‘We understand that this will cause a degree of uncertainty but with council savings of £108 million over the next three years it is significantly more challenging to protect education ex­penditure.”

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