Shorter school week ‘more efficient’

Hawick youngsters look set for a four-and-a-half day school week in the New Year.

Financial challenges and looming budget cuts are forcing a Scottish Borders Council rethink in a bid to provide a more “efficient” education service.

The council is putting forward proposals for what it calls
an “asymmetric week” which would mean a shorter school
week for 18,000 Borders youngsters.

This system, which, according to a council statement, has the backing of head teachers throughout the region, is currently used by several other local authority areas in Scotland including West Lothian and City of Edinburgh.

It is designed to make more efficient use of resources and would affect both primary and secondary schools.

Speaking to the Hawick News this week, Hawick councillor and education committee member George Turnbull said: “Although the children will attend school for only four-and-a-half days there will be no reduction in teaching hours. We have to become more efficient.

“Teachers will be able to concentrate their non-contact time to a Friday afternoon and the rest of the time will consist of face-to-face learning.”

Mr Turnbull continued: “The council and the education department is facing huge financial challenges. And in a bid to save £28million we all have to start thinking out of the box.”

The consultation, which will involve parents, staff and other stakeholders, will include an online survey, and public meetings throughout the region in January and February, with the findings being reported to councillors in March.

In a council statement, education director Glenn Rodger said: “The financial challenges facing the council are well known. It is recognised that there will be
a significant reduction in
budgets for both primary and secondary education in the years ahead.”

Mr Rodger added: “Moving to an asymmetric week would not only provide a platform for a more efficient service but will also enable better planning and preparation for school improvements.

Galashiels Councillor Sandy Aitchison, executive member for education added: “At a time when there is an agreement to maintain current teacher numbers and teachers’ terms and conditions, we are committed to finding ways to meet the financial challenges facing education without making any adverse impact on our children’s learning and attainment.”