DETERMINED parents who forced Renfrewshire Council into a U-turn on teachers’ working hours have launched a national petition to stop other authorities trying to do the same.
Mums and dads who halted plans to bring in sports and drama workers for 2.5 hours a week have now taken their campaign to the Scottish Parliament in a bid to remove what they call “an educational loophole”.
The Renfrewshire Parent Council Forum, which was set up to oppose the council’s controversial proposals, wants to ensure that no other council in Scotland can introduce this system in schools.
They claim there is a loophole in the law because although a 25-hour week is the accepted norm in Scottish schools, it is not a legal requirement.
Chair of the forum, Stephen Wright, said: “This allowed Renfrewshire Council to pass a policy that would have been highly damaging to our children’s education.
“This is not just a Renfrewshire issue, but one for parents throughout Scotland. If these loopholes aren’t closed, councils throughout Scotland will continue to have the authority to cut education hours and replace teachers by inventing new terms such as ‘enrichment’.
“The petition we have launched asks that teaching hours, and the amount of time children are educated be defined by the law, not by cash-strapped local authorities.”
Council bosses had planned to bring in more than 100 part-time sessional staff to work with primary school children for 2.5 hours a week “non-contact” class time.
However, a high-profile campaign, which saw more than 1,000 people march on Paisley Town Hall and teachers threatening to strike, resulted in a humiliating U-turn by the council.
Parents are now worried that other local authorities will try and bring in the cost-cutting plan.
Stephen added: “In the current financial climate the assumption that local authorities will continue to provide the widely accepted norm is not a good enough basis for our children’s education.
“Introducing laws that set education hours, where children are taught by qualified teachers, is one way to ensure that core education is protected from cuts.”
A petition has been formally submitted to the Scottish Parliament and is available to sign online.
Once the Scottish Parliament reconvenes after the May 5 elections, the petition will be considered by the petition’s committee.
The petition is available at http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/list_petitions.asp. The title is, Protecting the right of children to be taught by qualified teachers for 25 hours a week.list_petitions.asp. The title is, Protecting the right of children to be taught by qualified teachers for 25 hours a week.