Scottish Government reject teacher law change call

Calls to change the law on teacher time have been rejected by Holyrood. Picture: TSPL
Calls to change the law on teacher time have been rejected by Holyrood. Picture: TSPL
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CALLS to make it a legal requirement that pupils be taught by qualified teachers for at least 25 hours a week have been rejected by the Scottish Government.

Parents had petitioned the Scottish Parliament, calling for an explicit commitment that pupils spend the entire school week in front of a registered teacher. It followed controversial proposals, which were later dropped, by Renfrewshire Council to use volunteers instead of teachers to supervise some primary school activities.

Under the 2001 McCrone deal, teachers must work a 35-hour week, with 22.5 hours spent teaching. However, the pupil week is 25 hours in primary schools and 27.5 hours in secondaries, leading to ad-hoc arrangements to release teachers from class.

A petition from Renfrewshire Parent Council Forum, which attracted nearly 1,900 signatures, had called for a “legal requirement” that qualified teachers teach children for 25 hours in a normal school week.

But in a letter to tomorrow’s education committee, education secretary Mike Russell wrote: “The Scottish Government, in line with much of the evidence the committee has heard to date, does not believe that the introduction of legislation to provide for all pupils in primary schools to be taught by qualified teachers for 25 hours per week as called for by the petitioner is the way to proceed.

“The legal responsibility for the provision of education rests with local authorities and it is therefore for them to provide adequate and efficient education to all pupils in their schools. This approach allows flexibility and innovation to meet local circumstances which is at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence.” The final decision on how to take forward the petition will be made tomorrow by the education committee.