Thousands of parents have signed a petition against Fife Council’s controversial proposal to cut the school week.
Fife businesswoman Dehra Sweet launched the online petition against the proposals at lunchtime on Wednesday.
By yesterday morning it had already attracted 1,200 signatures and was continuing to grow.
Mrs Sweet, 37, a mother of twin boys who will start primary school in Freuchie next summer, launched the petition after attending Fife Council’s engagement meeting with parents in Bell Baxter High School, Cupar, on Tuesday night.
She also wrote to head of education Craig Munro outlining her concerns that the council was trying to bring in the changes “under the radar” by not being honest with parents
“To put it bluntly, the whole proposal comes across as a poor attempt at pretending the council is making these proposals to facilitate the improvement of education provision when, in fact, it is primarily needing to make cost savings,” she said.
“I would have given the council more credit if it had put it to us plainly that Fife Council needs to save money, it has some ideas of what could or may work, what did we think, and then engaged in a sensible consultation dialogue with parents, teachers and pupils in a considered and timely manner, enabling the council to gather proper evidence and do impact studies of the effect the proposals would have on our children and their families.
“Instead the council has very quietly started this engagement process and seem to be rushing it through in an incredibly short period of time.
“The meeting I was at seemed to be an exercise that I presume, legally, the council had to have done, but in reality was a chance for the council to downplay any concerns we raised.”
Shelagh McLean, Fife Council education directorate resources manager, said: “We have been pleased to see so many parents and carers attending our engagement sessions. The aim of these sessions was to present ideas for discussion including reshaping the school week, developing the secondary curriculum, leadership models and professional development.
“This is really all they are at this stage ideas. I can appreciate people’s anxiety around some of the proposals and it was absolutely our purpose to have these discussions, so we could hear people’s thoughts and ideas.
“We recognise that we have a responsibility to improve education in a sustainable manner, and we cannot ignore the fact local government faces a significant financial challenge.
“Therefore, some of these options could save substantial monies.
“However, although our proposals will help Fife’s schools to be more sustainable into the future, we are proposing each of them because of the impact they can make in helping us improve the life chances of our children and young people.”