Rethink urged over plan to ban school week cuts

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The Scottish Government is being urged to reconsider plans to ban councils from cutting the length of the school week.

The Scottish government is to change the law to make sure children spend a minimum of 25 hours a week in class. This follows rows over attempts by some councils to reduce the length of the school week to help balance their books.

The majority of primary one to three pupils spend 22.5 hours a week in Highland schools - a policy which would be banned under proposals to ensure every pupil has 25 hours with teachers every week.

The move would mean providing recruiting 30 news teachers to provide an extra 1000 teaching hours a year at a cost of around 2m.

Education chairman Drew Millar said the plans would be catastrophic for the cash-strapped council, which is facing a funding gap of more than 21m over 2016/17.

Highland Council was considering moving all schools to a 4.5 day week in a bid to help meet the deficit, a proposal which is now on hold. In a few parts of the country, councils have closed schools on Friday afternoons for some time. This could continue as long as the total number of hours over the year met the legal requirement.

However, the Curriculum for Excellence operates on an assumption of 25 hours of teacher contact each week in primary schools.

Under current legislation, councils must keep schools open for 190 days a year but the length of each school day is not regulated.

The government says primary school children will be guaranteed at least 950 hours a year of teaching time, equivalent to 25 hours a week.

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