Reform Scotland


Reform Scotland research shows huge variance in school contact hours offered by different local authorities

Reform Scotland, the independent think tank, has today issued new research showing a huge variance in the number of hours of teaching time offered in state schools across Scotland. The data for the research has been obtained through Freedom of Information requests to local authorities.

Reform Scotland does not object to variations in school hours, believing that local authorities (or, ideally, schools) should have more control over their operation, but the think tank is calling for much more transparency for parents, in order that they know the policy of their local authority and the impact it has on their children.

Aberdeenshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council offer the most teaching time in Scotland, with 1,000 hours per year in primary school and 1,100 hours per year in secondary school.

By contrast, Moray offers the least primary school time, at 851 hours, whilst Dundee and Midlothian offer 855 hours of secondary school teaching.

The variance is 149 hours per year at primary level, and 245 at secondary level. Reform Scotland has applied this to seven years of primary education and five of secondary education, which shows a variance of over 1,000 hours of primary teaching time and more than 1,200 hours of secondary teaching time.

At both primary and secondary level, this equates to over a year of teaching time. In other words, children in some parts of Scotland receive two years less state education than in other parts of the country.

The full tables are in the briefing.

Commenting, Reform Scotland’s Research Director Alison Payne said:

“We were surprised by the huge variation in hours exposed by our findings. We do not object to the variation in hours per se, because we believe that local authorities, and indeed individual schools, should have more control over their operation.

“However, we strongly object to the lack of transparency which appears to prevent parents from gaining full knowledge of this situation.

“We seriously doubt, for example, that many parents in Dundee will realise that their children will receive the equivalent of two years less teaching time than their peers just up the road in Aberdeenshire.

“This is unfair, unequal and wrong, because it prevents parents from making choices with the full information in mind.”