McArthur: Setting school days shows government contempt

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Liam McArthur MSP has today criticised a last-minute move by the Scottish Government to strip local authorities of the power to set school days.

Local authorities are currently required to open schools for 190 days a year, with the length and structure of the school day not specified in legislation.

In a last-minute amendment to the Education Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament, Ministers are seeking to enforce top-down regulations on school days.

Currently local authorities and head teachers have the flexibility and power to set the length and structure of the school day.

Cosla, the national association of Scottish councils, has accused the Scottish Government of either ‘bad planning on their part, or a knee-jerk response to an issue that was far from the top of the pile a matter of weeks ago. Cosla confirmed they have been in constant discussions with the Scottish Government but there had been no consultation over this amendment.

Mr McArthur said:

“The Scottish Parliament Education Committee has been scrutinising the government’s Education Bill for months – a task made all the more difficult by the failure of Ministers to consult on many of the proposals in it.

“Committee is being asked to vote next week on amendments to a National Improvement Framework yet to be published. Now the Minister decides, out of the blue, she wants to use the bill to specify teacher hours.

“Either she has been keeping a lid on her proposals or has panicked with an untested idea at the last minute.

“This shows utter contempt for parliament and for local authorities, giving no opportunity to take evidence on the proposals before having to vote on them.

“It is another example of Ministers wanting to micro-manage what happens in schools, reducing flexibility for local authorities and head teachers to respond to the needs of children, young people and parents.”


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