Half day a chance to increase pupils’ skills

The half-day pupils will enjoy from August is an opportunity that needs grasped, the chairman of Borders Sport and Leisure Trust has said.

David Ferguson, a father of two high school children, told The Southern: “There are questions to be asked over the speed of this decision and the implications for education and future generations, and there will be difficult issues for schools and parents.

“But, the implementation of the asymmetric week has now been agreed and we have a choice - continue to fight against it, when we know significant savings are needed, or look at how we can take advantage of it for our children and families.”

Mr Ferguson said pupils will be asked after Easter what clubs would interest them, to establish the potential popularity of ‘Friday Clubs’.

He added that these could be significantly cheaper than childcare for working parents.

“Under the asymmetric week, the Friday afternoons will free up time for such clubs. How many? Where? That will come down to where the community support and enthusiasm exists, and where the manpower and finance is available,” Mr Ferguson said.

He added that discussions with SBC and schools suggested that some facilities will be available within schools on Friday afternoons.

“We could have clubs for music, drama, art, dance, cooking, languages, gardening, trades, ICT, film-making, computer game coding and others - areas under pressure in finance-strapped schools struggling to find space, funding and staff to support them in the modern curriculum,” Mr Ferguson said.

“This could actually have positive benefits for children, families and schools. The key thing is we’ve got a short space of time to make it happen.

“If we get to August and nothing has been properly organised children will drift and go down the street on Friday afternoons or go to friends’ houses and it will be hard to pull them back from that.”

Mr Ferguson said senior pupils could also take on leadership or coaching roles at the clubs.

He added that BSLT is in a good position to provide activities for pupils on Fridays.

If you would be interested in supporting a Friday Club network email davidferg@btinternet.com