Children’s education will suffer as a result of cost-cutting move to shorten the day for pupils at a Fife secondary school, critics have warned.
Madras College intends to start and finish five minutes earlier each day. Senior pupils will also have their intervals and lunch breaks extended by five minutes, adding up to 20 fewer minutes in class every day.
The St Andrews school told parents the timetable changes, due to be in place from June next year, would help it “embrace financial challenges”.
Madras is among four Fife schools which are bearing the brunt of council cuts to education spending and are being asked to make savings of more than £266,000 this year and more next year.
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie urged Fife Council to reverse the dents on schools’ budgets.
The Liberal Democrat leader said: “Cutting 100 minutes from teaching every week will have a damaging effect on children’s education. It is time they will never get back.
“This is the direct consequence of cuts targeted to north-east Fife’s schools by the SNP/Labour-led administration of Fife Council.
“Almost half the cuts to schools in Fife are being imposed on Madras, Waid and Bell Baxter. That is unfair and damaging.”
Councillor Tim Brett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Fife, said: “We’ve been waiting for the impact of these cuts to bite and now we can see that our schools are being forced to reduce teaching time with only a few months’ notice because of the enormous £1.28 million of cuts from Fife House council leaders.
“It’s not fair on pupils or staff across Fife, but particularly those in the north-east of Fife who are bearing the brunt of the loss of funding.”
The council’s education and children’s services convener, SNP councillor Fay Sinclair, said: “Schools in Fife are able to tailor the school day to meet the specific requirements of their school community.
“The changes at Madras College have been made by the school following discussions with the parent council, staff and pupils.
“The head teacher has made it clear that these minor changes will not impact on the curriculum, structure or delivery of education at Madras.
“For the Liberal Democrats to use this to criticise the administration and a budget saving they themselves backed is disappointing but not surprising.
“Schools in north-east Fife are seeing budget reductions that reflect a fall in pupil numbers and to suggest there is a political move to unfairly target one area of Fife is completely untrue.”