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Teachers and pupils want shorter school days

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By Marc
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Teachers and pupils want shorter school days

CALLS have been made for shorter days in Dumfries and Galloway’s secondary schools to “improve work-life balance” for both teachers and pupils.

Plans are underway to restructure the high school timetable next year, with the same teaching schedule being applied across all 16 secondaries locally, rather than schools operating their own system.

The ‘curriculum transformation’ plans will also take into account the Scottish Government’s aim to reduce teacher contact time from 22.5 hours per week to 21 hours.

Dumfries and Galloway Council ran a consultation earlier this year, seeking the views of teachers, parents, and pupils on changes to the current timetable model. It received 2876 responses.

They asked what advantages people could see in a model where not all five schooldays are the same format/length.

Among the 325 answers, the most common advantages were listed as “greater flexibility in organising school activities, meetings, and appointments”, along with a “more efficient timetable allocation, maximising teaching time and allowing for tailored scheduling.”

Responses also included: “Improved work-life balance: shorter days leading to improved work-life balance for both staff and students.

“Longer weekends for staff and students, potentially reducing absenteeism and boosting morale.”

When asked about disadvantages, many respondents mentioned the importance of having a consistent daily routine for students.

“Varying start and finish times could lead to confusion and make it challenging for students to adjust,” said the council report.

Several also highlighted potential difficulties for parents and staff in arranging childcare when school days have different lengths. This could impact attendance and participation in extracurricular activities.

A report on the matter will be discussed at the education committee next Thursday.

It says: “Currently, our secondary schools run their own timetable models. Some of these are efficient and others are not.

“There is currently only full alignment of senior phase columns in the four Dumfries burgh schools, but not across the remaining 12 secondary schools.

“This means for learners who wish to network with other schools or join online virtual lessons there are almost always instances where a learner will have to miss part, or all, of an in-school class due to scheduling conflicts.”

Councillors will be asked to agree in principle that all secondary schools moved to a uniform timetable structure from August 2024. A report will then come back to the November education committee with recommendations on how this should look.

Dumfries and West

24th May

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