PARENTS have attacked plans for schools to introduce a four-and-a-half day week for pupils as part of moves to save money.

Connect, formerly the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said changing the school week was disruptive and caused difficulties with childcare and transport. Teaching unions also hit out over the plans.

The attack came after the rector of the 1,400-pupil Madras College, in St Andrews, Fife, said they needed to make “fundamental changes” to the way the school was run.

David McLure told a parent council meeting one option was a shorter school week, and said staff cuts were likely in the short-term.

The secondary school is facing a £266,762 reduction in its budget over the next year, the second largest cut of all Fife’s secondaries after Bell Baxter High School, which has been hit with a £272,866 cut.

While Fife Council has insisted no decisions have been made on savings options and talks with staff are ongoing the move comes after a number of other councils have looked at changing the school week.

Eileen Prior, executive director of Connect, said: “Changing the school week can make best use of teachers’ contracted contact time with pupils, but it presents a range of difficulties for families.

“Parents often have to re-arrange their working week or look for childcare for younger children for Friday afternoons and in more rural areas it is a particular concern as transport and childcare present additional issues.

“Councils across Scotland have been cutting budgets and reducing services which is something which parents have been very alarmed about. Many local authorities have moved to asymmetric weeks as they try to make school budgets go further which is a worrying trend.”

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union said schools were facing increasingly difficult decisions.

He said: “Staffing levels and resource budgets have been cut across the country, leaving schools with ever greater challenges in providing a high quality educational experience for pupils.

“The idea of cutting the length of the pupil week as a cost-saving measure has been suggested in a number of local authorities and the EIS has fiercely and successfully opposed this suggestion wherever it has been mooted.

“We will continue to reject any suggestion that the school week and the educational experience of pupils should be reduced in order to cut costs.”

The council’s head of education and children’s services Shelagh McLean said delivering quality teaching and learning in schools remained fundamental.

“Neither the school nor the education directorate are in a position to outline proposals of how these savings will be achieved at this point,” she said.

“I’d like to stress that no formal change exercise is in place and decisions have not yet been taken.”

Ms McLean said discussions with staff began before the school holidays and school-level talks would continue.

“Any proposed staffing plan will be formally consulted on with staff next school session,” she said.

“We are, of course, facing budget challenges and, like all council services, we are required to make savings. We do this in a planned manner and in discussion with our staff.”