The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teachers union has condemned the decision of West Dunbartonshire Council to cut the teaching week in primary schools by 2.5 hours and have warned of potential industrial action.
The council made the decision in a bid to save £1m and is part of wider ranging cuts from the Labour run council to save £17m over the next three years.
The EIS say they are vehemently opposed to West Dunbartonshire Council’s proposals which they believe will dilute the quality of education in primary schools.
The union are urging teachers to work with parents’ groups and other local campaigners to demand that the Council’s decision is reversed and have warned that they will consider industrial action if the decision is upheld.
The council have said that the cut would affect non class time such as assemblies and golden time- a widely-used incentive that rewards good behaviour in the classroom.
They said that teaching time with the regular class teacher would remain protected.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan has written to all Councillors in West Dunbartonshire to urge them to reconsider the decision.
Mr Flanagan said, “The idea that children’s educational experience will be enhanced by literally decimating the time they spend in class is frankly absurd.
“It is disingenuous of West Dunbartonshire Council to suggest that the time pupils spend with ‘their teacher’ will be unaltered.
“This deliberately plays on the fact that primary classes spend most of their time with a single teacher for 22.5 hours and the other two and half hours in a range of other educational experiences such as visiting specialists (e.g. music or PE), class work with another teacher, assemblies and so on.
“All of this is part of the curriculum; all of this is part of the Curriculum for Excellence approach to the whole child; all of this is learning and growth.”
He continued, “Why should the children of West Dunbartonshire be provided with a poorer educational experience than children in the rest of Scotland? If this is what is meant by a postcode lottery, the families of West Dunbartonshire are losing out.
Mr Flanagan warned, “The EIS is committed to opposing this move. We will work tirelessly with parents and local campaign groups to have this decision reversed and if need be we will ballot for industrial action in order to save jobs and services and to stand up for Education.”
He also highlighted the severe workload burden that is already being placed on teachers, which would reach unsustainable levels with further cuts: “Excessive workload is already a major concern for teachers – will there be a 10% cut in the expectations heaped upon schools and staff to match the reduction in the time available to achieve such targets? Clearly not – like Boxer in Animal Farm teachers will simply be exhorted to ‘work harder’ until they drop.”