School week set to change

Scottish Borders Council headquarters.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters.

HAWICK High School Parent Council has given its full support to a new shortened school week, which was approved by the local authority on Thursday.

Scottish Borders Councillors voted 21 to 8 (with one abstention) to rubber-stamp a controversial proposal to move every school onto a four-and-a-half day week. This means that all schools will have longer days from Monday to Thursday, but a shorter day on a Friday - with children leaving at lunchtime, whilst teachers stay back to plan.

And despite significant opposition - amid concerns mainly about childcare and transport - representatives of Hawick High School have welcomed the decision. Dawn Nairn, the secretary of Hawick High School Parent Council, explained: “We feel this is the best way to maximise teacher time, whilst saving money. It effectively gives us more bang for our buck.”

Moving to an asymmetric school week in August means that the high school timetable will change to a 33-period week, as opposed to 30. And Mrs Nairn, a mum-of-two, says this means they will get 33 teaching hours out of every teacher. “We will get the best amount of teaching time for our pupils”, she stated.

The changes are aimed at helping the education department deliver services with £11m a year less than is currently available. And in a report to councillors, Glenn Rodger, director of education, stated: “Despite the range of concerns expressed by parents and other stakeholders during the consultation exercise, the status quo is not a viable alternative. An assymetric week is required if schools are to plan and deliver effective teaching and learning, as finance and resources diminish over the next five years.”

And he added: “Whilst acknowledging the issues and concerns raised throughout this consultation, the alternatives of not going down such a path are even more concerning.”

Dawn Nairn added: “This way is the least painful way of meeting a cut without damaging the education.”