Scottish Labour will table amendments to the Education Bill to guarantee primary school pupils at least 25 hours of teaching time each week.

Scottish Labour has said parents sending their children to primary school should be confident that they will get at least 25 hours of teaching each week. Statutory regulation of the school week is supported the teachers’ union EIS.

The amendment would not seek to regulate how the 25 hours are used over the course of the school week.

A recent report by Reform Scotland said that the amount of teaching time a pupil gets can vary by up to 149 hours depending on where the school is, which can have an impact on a child’s learning. Current legislation says that pupils should get 190 days of teaching a year, but a day is not defined.

A number of local authorities have considered reducing the number of teaching hours to allow them to cut the number of teachers employed, in the face of swingeing cuts to their budgets. These moves were resisted by parents and teachers.

Scottish Labour’s Opportunity Spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“As a father, grandparent and former teacher, I want children to have a guaranteed minimum number of teaching hours in primary school. We want every child to have the best possible chance at school, especially pupils from deprived backgrounds.

The gap between the richest and the rest in our schools is as wide as ever under this SNP Government. More than 6,000 children in Scotland leave primary school unable to read properly and the ability of a young person to go on to higher education is still determined by how much money their parents have. That’s just not right.

At Stage Two of the Education Bill Scottish Labour will bring forward amendments to guarantee a minimum of 25 teaching hours in the primary school week. It’s for individual local authorities and schools to decide how these hours are used, but primary pupils and parents deserve a minimum guarantee. These amendments are about protecting the rights of pupils and their parents.

We need to make sure every young person in Scotland is equipped with the skills they need for the jobs of the future, jobs that will be found in industries yet to be created but that will be central to our economy in 20 or 30 years.

Compromises on the education of our young people should never be made in a bid to cut staffing budgets. With 4,000 fewer teachers in Scotland under the SNP Government, children are already losing out.”