Shorter week for Fife school pupils

Could the school week be shorter in Fife?
Could the school week be shorter in Fife?

Pupils in Fife could soon be spending less time in the classroom under proposals to redesign the school week.

Currently, primary pupils have a 25-hour week, but this could be reduced by 2.5 hours to match the ‘class contact time’ of teachers.

This could mean a reduction in each school day of half an hour, or perhaps pupils being given one afternoon off each week.

Changes are also being proposed to the secondary school week, with the possibility of an early finish on Fridays.

These are some of a number of changes in education up for discussion at a series of meetings. One of the meetings will be in Kirkcaldy, at St Andrews RC High School, on Monday.

Fife Council’s education and children’s services believes changes to the school week could benefit pupils.

It would also provide much-needed financial savings for the Council, as fewer teachers would be required.

However, while pupils might welcome a shorter week, some families might be concerned about the impact on childcare arrangements.

Craig Munro, executive director of education and children’s services, said: “We are passionate about improving the life chances of all our children and young people.

“These discussion sessions are important as they will allow us to share with parents, carers and other members of the local community our vision for the future.

“We will outline ways in which we can best develop the provision of schooling in Fife over the coming years, allowing us to improve the learning experiences and physical activity of children and young people.

“We would like to engage in a dialogue around practical issues involved in developing our proposals like the school week, school timetabling approaches and potential new leadership models in schools.”

New leadership models could include headteachers being responsible for a group of schools instead of just one school. There are already a few examples of this in Fife, mainly in rural areas involving small schools.

Parents and carers should have received letters or emails inviting them to the discussion session in their area. Details are also available on the Council’s Fife Direct website.

Redesigning the school week

Primary pupils have a 25-hour week, which could be cut to 22.5 hours. Teachers have a 35-hour working week, of which 22.5 hours are spent teaching, the rest of made up of activities such as preparation, marking, assessments and writing reports.

Included in the options for secondary schools is the possibility of early closure on Fridays, around 1.00 p.m. To compensate, there would be shorter lunch breaks and a slightly earlier start on other days.