Renfrewshire Council is set to reconsider its proposed changes to the primary school week.
The Council had planned a pilot programme starting in August where specialist support staff would work with primary school classes for 2.5 hours a week on issues such as healthy lifestyle, citizenship, sport and culture.
Now councillors at the meeting of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board on Thursday February 24 will be asked to suspend the new approach.
The council would instead raise issues such as affordability, teacher class contact time and the role of other staff in schools, in its formal submission to the McCormac Review on teacher employment.
As a result, the council is proposing to suspend the pilot scheme, and also the training and recruitment of the new employees who would have delivered it.
“How all councils deliver good quality education in this era of drastically reduced funding remains an issue,” said Councillor Lorraine Cameron, Convener of Renfrewshire
“We believe that our proposal has merit in taking an innovative approach to delivering learning experiences while avoiding damaging cuts.
“However, we know that it would be a major change. We have listened to the concerns of parents who felt that the pace and scope of that change was too much at this time.
“In the last few days, I have had the chance to consider the terms of reference of Professor McCormac’s review on teacher employment. On that basis, it seems best that the issues Renfrewshire has been exploring are considered in a national context. Those involved in education in Renfrewshire and in Scotland can then have their say before any new approaches are taken forward.
“I now think it is better that Renfrewshire doesn’t implement its own proposals when those could well be affected and shaped by the outcome of that national review so we won’t be proceeding with our original proposal at this time.
“I will be inviting all members of the Education Policy Board to work with the council to make a practical and effective submission to the review and on developing the future of primary education in Renfrewshire.”
Council Leader Derek Mackay said: “I will be meeting parent council chairs (on Tuesday February 22) along with Councillor Cameron and outlining to them in detail the reasons for suspending the programme. We want their input into how the education service in Renfrewshire can continue to maintain high standards while tackling the savings we will be forced to make.
“Renfrewshire has consistently prioritised education and the service has been asked to make half of the average savings asked of other departments in this year’s budget.
“The impact of reduced funding is here for the foreseeable future. Difficult choices will still need to be made.
“However, it’s now clear that the McCormac review will have a detailed look at teaching and the curriculum in Scotland when it reports in the summer.
“Once that review is published and considered fully, Renfrewshire will bring forward its response to the review’s findings.
“Should the national review recommend new options then we’ll discuss our approach with parents and others in advance.”