Councillors express concerns over proposed changes to school hours

Pupils at Moray schools could face being sent home early in a bid to help teachers cope with the delivery of new national qualification courses.

The move was discussed on Wednesday at Moray Council when a draft proposal to change the working week at the all eight secondary schools in the region.

Currently Moray’s children are taught during a 30-period week, classes running from 8.45am until 3.20pm.

However, under the proposals that would change to 32 or 33-period week, with classes finishing at 2.50pm two days each week and 3.40pm on the remaining three.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of the Children and Young People’s Services Committee, where members heard that the changes would allow teachers extra time they will require to provide stronger support for pupils studying the new national qualification courses.

However, Forres councillor Aaron McLean questioned if early finishes might result in extra costs for rural school bus runs – while Councillor George Alexander, a former teacher, wanted to know what teachers themselves felt about the proposals.

Acting director of education at the local authority, Laurence Findlay, reassured councillors over their concerns and gave an assurance that officers would work closely with head teachers to find the best way forward.

He told councillors: “Our next step at this stage is the secondary head teachers and myself are going to visit the schools in the Borders and Central belt to see how models work. It is very early days but that is where we are just now.”

An alternative suggestion was put forward by the leader of Moray Council, Allan Wright, who said that a four-day week of late finishes and a half-day followed by an afternoon of sport or extra-curricular activities might be a more viable alternative.

Councillor Wright said: “That is a way of getting around the difficulty of child care with these short days.”

A┬ánew national qualifications system has been introduced to Scotland’s schools to support Curriculum for Excellence, introduced as a new way of learning to schools and colleges in 2010.

The new qualifications are designed to help young people demonstrate the knowledge, understanding and skills they have developed at school or college and enable them to prepare for further learning, training and employment.

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