Changes should not affect pupils’ progress

Bell Baxter High School
Bell Baxter High School

Protecing pupil attainment should be key to any changes Fife Council intends to make in Education and Children’s Services.

Following a meeting at Bell Baxter High School last Thursday evening, Julie Struthers, Parent Council’s chairman, said parents need to know that plans which could see schools cut teaching time by 50/60 minutes per week, will not have a detrimental effect on attainment.

She said she was delighted with the level of feedback received both on the night and from parents individually.

The Parent Council will now forward it to Fife Council’s education and children’s services to reflect the key issues of importance to parents and carers .

It will also continue to involve parents in any future discussions should the local authority take any of these ideas to formal consultation in the coming year.

Julie said the meeting highlighted several areas of key importance to Bell Baxter parents/carers.

They are:

• Any change in timetable, or other proposed ideas, should protect if not raise pupil attainment. Parents need more information on how schools can ensure that 50/60 minutes reduced teaching time a week does not have a detrimental effect on attainment

• Concern that enrichment subjects be maintained and that there will be no loss of SQA subjects available to pupils

• That individual schools should be given flexibility to accommodate a timetable to suit local needs - both at educational and practical levels. Consideration to be given to the size of the school, the ability of the pupils and the geographic challenges - half of Bell Baxter’s pupils are transported in, making shared school and after-school activities more challenging logistically)

• More explanation is required by parents on the ‘pros and cons’ of each aysmmetric model being suggested. Are there other viable options other than half day proposal? What impact would earlier starts or later finishes have on pupils travelling furthest?

• That practical and financial implications of parents are considered (eg. childcare, transportation etc)

• The implications of a half school day on pupil safety and truancy

• That all other avenues for savings been considered at Fife and Scottish level as alternatives to a reduction in teaching time.

Although the changes are not a formal proposal yet, Fife Council has to save £77 million over the next three years.