Protest over Renfrewshire Council teaching hours 'cut'

Image caption,
Campaigners say the move will set a dangerous precedent

Parents have staged a protest in Paisley over plans by Renfrewshire Council to cut the teaching week at primary schools from August.

Registered teachers currently provide 2.5 hours of cultural, citizenship and sporting activities to pupils.

The council wants non-teaching staff to take on the role so it can cut 60 teaching posts and save £1.12m a year.

Critics claim the move will be harmful to pupils and set a dangerous precedent for other schools in Scotland.

Under the new scheme, pupils would continue to be taught throughout the week by teachers registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

In the remaining 2.5 hours, children would work with other council staff on an "enrichment programme" of activities.

The pilot scheme will involve all 49 primary schools in Renfrewshire in two stages between August and December.

Budget cuts

Thursday's protest was staged ahead of a meeting of the full council to set next year's budget.

Speaking ahead of the protest, Stephen Wright, acting chairman of Renfrewshire Parent Council Forum said: "We are asking councillors to scrap this policy and open up proper discussions with parents and teachers as to how best to meet budget cuts in education."

"Can councillors honestly say that cutting education time and bringing non-teaching staff into primary schools is the best options they can come up with?

"Not only will this be damaging to children's education in Renfrewshire but councillors have to consider the wider impact that this policy will bring to Scottish education as a whole."

Renfrewshire Council said it needed to find £75m in savings over the next three years and the proposed changes would help avoid "damaging cuts" and "school closures".

Council leader Derek Mackay said: "We want to build confidence in our schools programme and this is the best way forward.

"It is better than alternatives such as school closures, increasing class sizes or a four-day week.

"Before implementation of the policy, members will have a chance to scrutinise it further at our education policy board in June in order to address outstanding concerns of parents."

It is proposing to fully implement the scheme in January 2012 after the initial trial period starting in August.

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