Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has agreed to implement changes to the school week for primary and secondary pupils across the region, but some parents worried about increased childcare costs have criticised the decision.
The move, designed to address both the educational and resource allocation challenges, will see all of SBC’s 63 primary and nine secondary schools move to a four-and-a-half day ‘asymmetric week’ from August 2014.
The changes will result in the first four days of the school week being slightly longer than they currently are, with every pupil finishing earlier on Friday.
Working arrangements for staff will be unchanged, and there will be no reduction in the total hours pupils attend or are taught in school.
Glenn Rodger, director of education and lifelong learning, said; “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. An asymmetric week will give the council the platform it requires to plan and implement transformational change in our schools.”
As well as financial benefits, the council says moving to an asymmetric week will provide longer learning slots for primary pupils and increased opportunities for collaborative working between schools in each learning community ‘cluster’.
The council also argues that three extra learning slots accommodated in the secondary school timetable will enable high schools to give more breadth and depth to personalised education for older children, with exciting opportunities to work with nearby colleges and universities being made available in the half day pupils are away from school.
In agreeing to the proposals, councillors requested that each of the Scottish Borders’ six learning communities publicise for parents and pupils a plan outlining how they will utilise non-teaching time on Friday afternoons.