Parents feel ‘misled’ over new school week

The new asymmetric school wek is now in operation.
The new asymmetric school wek is now in operation.

A councillor has raised concern over changes to the school week, which became active when pupils returned two weeks ago.

However, SBC’s Education Committee heard from it’s chairman Councillor Sandy Aitchison that the switch to a four-and-a-half-day asymmetric week is going “very smoothly”.

The new timetable sees schools start earlier and finish later from Monday to Thursday in order to allow the early finish on Friday. It is aimed at reducing staff costs and bringing timetables into alignment.

But Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston said a number of parents of school pupils feel “misled” over the changes. He told the committee last week: “I’ve had several parents contact me quite upset.

“When this was first mooted it was said we needed the Friday afternoon for teacher training etc. – but now parents are seeing teachers leave Kelso High School five minutes after pupils and think they’ve been misled.”

Jeanette McDiarmid, depute chief executive, responded: “Some schools are not using that time on Friday afternoons, and some are staying on one evening to put in that time. It is not a case of teachers not fulfilling the number of hours required in their working week.”

Teacher representative Graham Jarvie added that staff would be working extra time Monday to Thursday if they were not working Friday afternoons. A “leadership programme” for teachers on Friday afternoons is planned for roll-out across all schools.

Education committee chairman Councillor Sandy Aitchison said there had been some “glitches” but the council would work to make the system “better for everybody”.

Councillor Aitchison said he believed the overall picture in the first weeks of its operation was a positive one.

“It would be wrong to say that everything is in place and working 100%,” he admitted. However, he said they were of aware of just two “little glitches” in hundreds of school transport runs across the region.

“What we need to do now is look at the negatives and try and see how we can assuage them and make it better for everybody. We are in a far more positive place than I thought we would be at this time. We need to leave it and see how these negotiations work, and I’m sure things will improve as the system beds in.”