A COUNCIL which oversees some of Scotland's best performing state schools is to have each child in class for just nine hours a week when pupils return in August after the coronavirus lockdown, it has been revealed.

Letters sent to parents of schools overseen by East Dunbartonshire Council show that secondary schools will only be able to accommodate nine pupils in every classroom - drastically cutting the amount of in-class time children will have.

And primary school pupils will be in-school for two days a week, with home learning for two days as long as the two-metre social distancing rule to stop the spread of Covid-19 is in place.

READ MORE: Two thirds of Scots parents complain about having no online lessons from schools during lockdown

It comes as education secretary John Swinney prepares to make a statement  on Tuesday at Holyrood on the next steps towards reopening schools.


Pupils are due to return from August 11, but will initially have a "blended" approach involving face-to-face teaching and at-home learning.

There has been speculation exams in 2021 could be delayed and that blended learning could last for a year.

The Herald revealed the concerns of parents over future plans for children's school as new analysis revealed two thirds of parents complained their school was not providing online lessons during the coronavirus lockdown.

A parent poll raised concerns about a lack of face-to-face school time off the back of the Scottish Government's controversial 'blended learning' plans when schools open again in August. 

East Dunbartonshire Council which looks after top performing secondary schools such as Douglas Academy, Bearsden Academy, Lenzie Academy, St Ninian's High and Bishopbriggs Academy revealed its 'back to school' information in a letter from chief education officer Jacqui MacDonald.

She said that after an extensive exercise to assess the capacity of each secondary school, it was confirmed a maximum of nine pupils could be accommodated in each classroom of most schools.

HeraldScotland: St Ninian's High School

Following consultation with head teachers and unions, it was decided that all secondary schools in the council area would plan for one third of the year group attending at any one time - equating to nine hours in-class for each pupil.

For primary school pupils this meant two-days, or 11 hours of in-school provision operating on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday."

"We understand that it is a very difficult time for parents, particularly those who need to return to work, as children will not be in school full time," said the education chief, saying the focus was on "health and well-being".

She added: "We are working to put in place additional childcare for the children of key workers. However this will be more limited than during lockdown as school buildings and our education staff will be needed to provide the in-school provision and home learning support during the week. We would ask parents to explore all possible options before applying for a key worker childcare place."


Mr Swinney indicated a move to get local authorities to use other council spaces, even church halls to accommodate pupils.

But Ms MacDonald said spaces within the school as well as other in the local area would have needed "significant adaptation to create an appropriate nurturing environment for high quality learning and teaching in small groups".

She added: "Accommodation out with the school would require to be risk assessed, with concerns including access to toilets and transport as well as adequate supervision and staffing."

Staffing was also a "significant constraint" with difficulties in recruiting teachers at a time when other schools were also seeking more staffing as a result of the new blended learning move. She also anticipated that there will be a number of staff "who may not be able to be in-school in August due to Covid-19".

She said there were plans to develop a Virtual School, across all secondaries to provide support for the home learning element, particularly those in S4 to S6.

"This will support the development of home learning taking account of feedback from staff, pupils and parents," she said "Our aim is to provide the maximum time possible for children in-school but this is dependent on the guidance from Scottish Government and the compliance with all health and safety requirements due to Covid-19."

The news was greeted with concern from some parents.

One said: "I was already concerned about the lack of educational support my children were getting from the school during lockdown. This does not allay those worries, and lays further questions as to how on earth working parents like myself are going to be able to cope with all this home schooling."

The council was approached for comment.