North Ayrshire Council may examine four-day school week

BBC NEWS 6 February 2011

North Ayrshire Council may examine four-day school week
The council may also consider starting primary education a year later, at the age of six A Scottish council has confirmed it may consider introducing a four-day week in its primary and secondary schools to cope with planned funding cuts.

North Ayrshire Council said it was one of a number of future options being considered.

If implemented it could save the council more than £2m. But unions have said the move would cause chaos for working parents.

The council last week approved a 2011-12 budget which included cuts of £8.9m.

The local authority aims to bridge a £38m funding gap by 2014.

The idea is said to be one of a wide range of early options which may be considered by North Ayrshire Council over the coming years.

The Labour-led council may also consider starting primary education a year later, when pupils are six-years-old, although no decisions have been taken on the proposals.

Carol Kirk, the council’s education director, said any plans to alter the current system would be “fully investigated and discussed”.

“The option for children to start primary school at age six has been widely discussed by education professionals across the UK for several years now and is already in operation in many other European countries,” she said.

“The option to deliver the statutory 25 hours of education per week over four rather than five days is also being explored by other local authorities in Scotland.”

After politicians and public have properly drawn breath over this story should they be as concerned as their first reaction suggests? Although these decisions are being driven by the financial climate there are plenty of educational justifications that should be considered. Could these proposals be the beginning of something quite creative and beneficial? Firstly, why try to ram statutory hours into four days? A range of  flexischooling options with various flexitimes could be deployed. We already know how effective these can be in permitting children and young people to take responsibility for their own learning and for a prompting shift in teachers roles from ‘sage on the stage to guide on the side’. There are plenty of examples of effective learning occuring beyond the constraints of the walls of school classrooms and we at CPE-PEN consistently advocate we should be learning from from them (W:  B: W:

We recently reported the Hollingsclough Primary flexischool project another example of financial pressures leading to creative educational responses.

The crisis in our money systems should be seen as a real opportunity to build learning systems on what we do know about learning and real value for money. Perhaps the cuts could offer a quicker more intersting route to change in our moribund schooling systems.


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