Waid Academy, which is facing a £52,000 budget cut, is considering a proposal to cut the length of its school week to meet the anticipated deficit.
This comes only two months after Madras College, which is facing a budget cut of £266,000 this year and more next year, announced plans to take five minutes from the start and end of each day and have longer intervals and lunches for senior pupils.
Waid Academy proposes to move to either a four-and-a-half day week or three longer days, finishing at 3.35pm, and two shorter days, finishing at 3pm. Parents are being asked to choose between the two options
St Columba’s RC High School, in Dunfermline, has already switched to an asymmetrical week and other schools are said to be examining changes to their timetables in an effort to make savings. As previously reported, Fife schools are also facing cuts to musical instrument tuition.
East Neuk and Landward councillor Linda Holt said parents were concerned the two shorter days, both ending at 3pm, could lead to chaos in the car parks, as pupils from Waid would be leaving at the same time as children from the neighbouring primary school.
She added that option of the half-day “discriminates against working parents, those on low incomes and others who have difficulty finding childcare for Friday afternoons”.
“Either way, reduced school budgets are already putting some head teachers in extremely difficult positions, particularly in north east Fife, where high schools have suffered some of the council’s deepest cuts.
“Neither the Education Service nor the administration at Fife Council is straight with the public, or with elected members, about what ‘savings’ mean in practice for parents and pupils when the budget is set.
“This is why nine months down the line, parents like the ones at Waid can find themselves presented with a consultation which is really a fait accompli, where their only choice is between a rock and a hard place.”
In a letter to parents from Waid Rector, Iain Hughes, gave an assurance there would be no reduction in teaching time, stating “secondary schools in Fife are currently planning to manage a reduction in our staffing budgets.
“In order to minimise impact on our curriculum and learning and teaching, we have been exploring ways of maximising the efficiency of our school timetable by looking at different options for the structure of the school week while maintaining pupils teaching time at 1650 minutes per week in 33 periods of 50 minutes.”
Fay Sinclair, convener of the council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, said: “Schools in Fife are able to tailor the school day to meet the specific requirements of their school community.
“This consultation will also involve discussions with the parent council, staff and pupils. Any minor changes will not impact on the curriculum, structure or delivery of education.”
“The quality of teaching and learning in our schools is fundamental to our ambitions for our young people and a fairer, stronger Fife. Our focus will continue to be on the best possible outcomes for children and young people and their future life chances.
“Any changes affecting transportation would be discussed with the bus companies and arrangements made.”