Renfrewshire Council to drop teaching time cut

Image caption,
Parents, pupils and teachers held several protests over proposed cuts

Renfrewshire Council looks set to abandon controversial plans to cut teaching time in primary schools.

The authority had proposed using non-teaching staff for 2.5 hours each week in a bid to save £1.12m a year.

But following protests by parents and the threat of industrial action by teachers the plan may now be dropped.

The council's education policy board will be asked on Thursday to suspend the pilot scheme, which was due to begin in August.

Councillor Lorraine Cameron, Renfrewshire's education convener, said: "We believe that our proposal has merit in taking an innovative approach to delivering learning experiences while avoiding damaging cuts.

"However, we know that it would be a major change. We have listened to the concerns of parents who felt that the pace and scope of that change was too much at this time."

Ms Cameron said it was important that the issues raised during the recent controversy were "considered in a national context" as part of the ongoing McCormac Review on teacher employment.

"I now think it is better that Renfrewshire doesn't implement its own proposals when those could well be affected and shaped by the outcome of that national review so we won't be proceeding with our original proposal at this time," she said.

Council leader Derek Mackay said he and Ms Cameron would meet parent council chairmen on Tuesday to discuss with them the reasons for suspending the proposed changes.

He said, however, that the impact of reduced funding was "here for the foreseeable future" and "difficult choices will still need to be made".

'Fantastic campaign'

Stephen Wright, acting chair of Renfrewshire Parent Council Forum, described the move as "a magnificent victory for parent power" and called for the resignation of both the council leader and education director.

"We have fought an outstanding campaign over the last month to get the council to reverse their ill-conceived and unpopular proposal," he said.

"The positions of Councillor Mackay as leader of the council and Robert Naylor as the director of education are now both untenable.

"They have lost the confidence of the parents and teachers of Renfrewshire and we believe they both must now consider their positions."

Paisley North MSP Wendy Alexander said: "I want to pay tribute to the fantastic campaign waged by local parents and teachers against these cuts.

"They have killed off a plan that would have seen their children lose 700 hours of teaching over their primary school careers."

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