Parents brand decision to start new school term on a Friday 'pointless'

Renfrewshire Council approved plans to reopen schools on August 16 after the summer break next year.

Parents in Renfrewshire ‘bewildered’ as council decides new school term to start on a Friday iStock

Bewilderment has been expressed over Renfrewshire Council’s decision to start the 2024/25 school year on a Friday.

Under the timetable, which has been approved by elected members, schools will reopen to pupils after the summer break on August 16 next year.

Some parent councils described the move as “pointless” and it was warned it could prove confusing for primary one children.

Councillor Iain McMillan, Labour group leader, agreed with the sentiment of the feedback and asked for the thinking behind the arrangements at the education and children’s services policy board on Thursday.

He said: “I find that a bit bizarre, to be perfectly honest with you.

“I dare say the older kids will take it in their stride, it won’t make much difference to them, but particularly for the P1s starting.

“All this hoo-ha about starting school, everybody getting all emotional and the rest of it, and it lasts for one day then they’re back to normal the next day.

“Some kids might think that’s it, I went through all that just for one day and that’s it finished.

“I’m not moving against it. If people are quite happy and content with it, that’s fine and that seems to be the case, but for me as a grandparent, you’re like, what? One day? I’m not entirely convinced.”

Consultation was carried out with staff, parent councils, pupil councils and teaching and other trade unions over the proposal.

Gerry Lyons, interim head of education, explained why the local authority will send children back to school after the summer break on a Friday.

He said: “It was raised enough in the consultation, not massively so, for me to have another look at it and to see what the options were.

“There were suggestions about moving the in-service days earlier so that the children started on the Thursday, Friday, but we weren’t able to do that because it would have taken the annual leave entitlement for teachers for this year below what they’re entitled to, so that stopped us from doing that.

“We did consider reducing the number of in-service days before the start of the session to one and doing it that way, but again feedback that we got from running that past some head teachers was that’s vital time to get the year started positively and losing that would be concerning.

“I suppose allowing for the points you’re making – and I do take them on board – we started on a Friday in 2021 and the concerns which were raised both in the consultation and by yourself, we didn’t really see them to any great extent.”

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