School hours is one cost-cutting exercise too far

Will classrooms soon look like this if cost cutting exercises go ahead?
Will classrooms soon look like this if cost cutting exercises go ahead?

Under-pressure Falkirk Council’s suggestion to reduce school hours to save cash has been met with anger and disbelief from parents.

The option was first revealed last year as well as in the recent online budget consultation.

Falkirk Council said it needed to make savings of around £40 million over the next three years.

However, it was the idea to reduce primary school teaching hours from 25 to 22.5 hours per week which drew most criticism.

A concerned parent said: “The council is saying swimming pools are more important than our children’s education, agreeing to pay £550,000 to upgrade the wave machine in the Mariner Centre and the flumes in Grangemouth.

“Now it’s looking to save £595,000 over three years by cutting 10 per cent of primary contact time, reducing the school week by half a day.

“This seems incredible when it is also trying to encourage people to work.”

An online petition has gathered more than 2500 signatures urging the council to rethink the plans and to find savings elsewhere.

A council spokesman said: “The leader of the Council made it clear at the budget meeting that if additional funding can be obtained from elsewhere then this proposal will be dropped.

“Any potential reduction to the current primary school week from 25 to 22.5 hours would not be implemented until 2016/17 and further consultation would be carried out prior to any changes.”

In a letter to council chief executive Mary Pitcaithly and acting directors of education services, Gary Greenhorn and Anne Pearson, angry parents implored them not to implement the proposal.

They said: “This is a direct cut to the quality of the children of Falkirk’s education.

“It will disadvantage our children in their future secondary education, higher education, future careers and general quality of life.”