‘Issues’ come to surface over plans to change school week

High school head master Kevin McClory
High school head master Kevin McClory
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THE education boss proposing a change to the school week has admitted that an early finish on a Friday could cause problems for parents.

The admission was made during Tuesday night’s public meeting in the high school, at which a small turnout of parents and teachers heard about plans to move to a four-and-a-half day week. The proposal would mean all schools operating longer days from Monday to Thursday, but a shorter day on a Friday – with children leaving at lunchtime, while teachers work on.

It was heard that the idea has been put forward to allow schools to prepare better, share a structure and resources, and maximise teachers’ contracted hours – while also saving £9million from Scottish Borders Council’s budget over the next five years.

And although Glenn Rodger, the director of education, outlined the benefits for both teachers and pupils, he did not disagree with one parent who said it would hit her in the pocket.

The concerned mum-of-two told the meeting: “This might save Hawick High School money, but it certainly won’t save me any. The summer holidays cost me a fortune, and myself and my husband are already stretched to the max.”

Mr Rodger conceded: “There are issues, and the biggest is childcare. We can’t offer to pay for childcare.”

And despite giving assurances that out-of-school clubs would be increased, he added: “We fully recognise there is a transfer onto parents.”

Other concerns raised included the longer day for younger children and rural pupils, but Mr Rodgers stressed: “It takes a bit of getting used to, but it will become the norm.”

Secretary of the high school’s parent council, Dawn Nairn, said it fully supported the change to a 33-period week, as did Drumlanrig Primary head teacher Jeanette Gordon, who commented: “The biggest benefit will be quality time for devlopment work.”

New head master Kevin McClory, who recently took up the post from West Lothian, also backed the proposal.

“I come from an authority that implemented an assymetric week and firmly believe it is the way forward,” he stated.

All views will be reported back at SBC on March 27.