Changing school week is unpopular

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Childcare on a Friday afternoon is causing parents most concern about the proposed move to a four and a half day week for Borders schools.

Looking to save £500,000 on their education budget, Scottish Borders Council have been consulting with parents and staff about making Monday to Thursday school days a little longer and pupils would finish at lunchtime on Fridays.

Friday afternoons will be used by early years, primary and secondary teaching staff to work together on developing education programmes within the parameters of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Councillors, deciding today on whether to approve the four and half day week, were told by the director of education and lifelong learning, Glenn Rodger: “A range of common issues and concerns were identified by stakeholders during the consultation exercise. The major issue is that of availability and cost of additional childcare.

“However, the case for a move to an asymmetric week remains strong both in educational and financial terms. The council must plan for an education service that best serves the needs of all children and young people at a time when financial resources are going to reduce significantly.

“Despite the range of concerns expressed by parents and other stakeholders the status quo is not a viable alternative.”

During the consultation process 1246 people commented on the proposed changes to the school week, 620 people attended public meetings, plus 20 Parent Councils and 3267 pupils had their say.

Childcare was the biggest concern for parents of primary school pupils. Other issues raised were the length of the school day; the impact on education and learning; and the impact on after school and lunchtime activities.