32 Period Week Proposal to be Withdrawn but Parents Still Require Urgent Answers

Laurie Bidwell

16 January 2012

At next week's Education Committee (Monday 23rd January 2012) there is a report about responses to the consulation about the 33 period week.

This consultation was about a proposal to standardise the school week across the 9 secondary schools in Dundee.

It is clear from the committee report that this proposal neither persuaded parents and carers nor teachers.

With such a mixed response, it is not surprising that the proposal has been withdrawn.

There are however a number of crucial and urgent questions which are not contained within the report and require answers at the Education Committee.

In the presentation which was used at the consultation events, the preferred timetable had thirty one periods of 50 minutes with the addition of one daily twenty minute period, called Tutorial, which combined the functions of registration and some roles connected with guidance.

Attenders at the consultation were all told that Tutor Time was necessary as part of meeting the new pupil entitlement in the Curriculum,for Excellence.

More specifically that each pupil should have one teacher that knows her/him particularly well.

How will this entitlement be met for every one of our pupils in her/his secondary school?

Now that the 33 period week has been abandoned, we also need to hear how our nine secondary schools will timetable examination classes in S4 (the new National 4 and 5 examinations).

Although this was not strictly part of the consultation about the 33 period week, it was inquired about by parents at both of the consultation events I attended.

The biggest bone of contention is the narrowed number of subjects that each pupil can take in S4.

Pupils will only be able to take a a maximum of six subjects at National 4 or 5, the new exams, compared with a maximum of eight subjects at Standard Grade, which are being phased out.

While a model of the the new 'senior phase' (S3-S6) has been sent to the Head Teachers in our nine secondary schools, there has not been a cheep to the Education Committee.

Parents and carers together with some subject teachers have expressed concerns about the consequences of the narrowing of subject choices at S4.

For example, it may limit the chances of pupils in Dundee who cannot undertake three sciences at National 4/5.

As a consequence, these pupils may find it more difficult to meet the university entrance requirements for a clutch of the professions.

It does seem perverse that Curriculum for Excellence in practice will apparently usher in a narrowing of curriculum entitlement when its advocates have claimed that it would lead to a broader general education.

It is long overdue that the Education Committee are fully informed about what will go into the timetable rather than the way the timetable hours are divided up into periods.

The consultation about the 33 period week was really a big distraction.

What is more much more important is the breadth of subjects offered to our school pupils in each of our senior schools.

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