Pupils studying for National 5 and Higher exams at Dyce Academy near Aberdeen have been told they will have to pay £5 per morning or afternoon session if they want to join in extra study groups led by teachers during the holiday period.
The practice has been condemned by both parents and teaching unions, which warned that charging for classes could “risk deepening the poverty-related attainment gap”.
The school has previously hosted exam classes during the holidays free of charge for students – with teachers paid for the extra time out of the school’s budget.
Under the new rules, for pupils doing a full quota of National 5 exams, the cost could reach a total of £30. More than a dozen classes are on offer over the two-week holiday period.
Parents have complained to the school, fearing that the charges may prevent some pupils from taking part in the classes. One parent said: “If you have a child doing six N5s – that’s £30. If you have two children, the cost goes up even further. Some parents just can’t afford it.”
Lesley Adam, headteacher at Dyce Academy, sent a letter to parents explaining that the £5 cost would cover “appropriate resources”.
She wrote: “To ensure that appropriate resources are provided, we would ask that a contribution of £5 per session is provided in advance of the classes.”
A spokeswoman for the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, said: “While the EIS cannot comment in relation to an individual school, we would not welcome any introduction of charges for supported study classes which have previously been offered free to pupils.
“Such an approach would run the risk of deepening the poverty-related attainment gap by imposing charges which will be beyond the means of some parents.”
Joanna Murphy, chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “We have never heard of this happening before – the cost of extra study sessions is usually met by the local authority or out of the school’s budget.
“Parents do not need to be on the poverty line to struggle to pay extra costs like this.”
Aberdeen City Council declined to comment.