Renfrewshire teachers 'may strike over hours cut'

Image caption,
Parents and teachers are campaigning against the proposal

Primary teachers in Renfrewshire have indicated a strong willingness to pursue industrial action over plans to cut the teaching week.

An indicative ballot organised by the EIS union, saw 97% of teachers vote against council plans to use non-teaching staff for 2.5 hours each week.

The council says the move is necessary to help it address a budget shortfall of £75m over the next three years.

Critics claim it will damage education and set a dangerous precedent.

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

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

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 two-and-a-half hours, children would work with other council staff on an "enrichment programme" of activities.

Earlier this month, the EIS union said it would be holding an indicative ballot over the issue to gauge whether staff would be prepared to take industrial action.

It has now said that from a 75% turnout in the postal ballot, 97% of its members were opposed to the plans.

EIS general secretary, Ronnie Smith, said: "This result shows the strength of feeling against Renfrewshire Council's damaging proposals for part-time primary education.

"Teachers have voted in massive numbers against the council's cut to teaching hours, and it is clear that the council must change course before their proposals cause significant damage to the educational experience of every primary pupil in Renfrewshire.

"Renfrewshire Council must now listen to the parents, teachers and educational policy makers who have foreseen the damage that this financially-driven cut would cause."

Parents opposed to the planned changes held a protest in Paisley on Thursday. Another protest is planned for the weekend.

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