Prescribing the minimum annual number of learning hours: consultation

Closed 13 Jun 2023

Opened 21 Mar 2023


This consultation seeks views on the Scottish Government’s plans to set a legal minimum number of hours of school education school pupils should receive each year. 

Traditionally, Scottish primary schools provide around 25 learning hours per week, and Scottish secondary schools around 27.5 hours per week.  However, while local authorities are required to have their schools open for 190 days each year, the number of learning hours is not prescribed.  Our schools have never been more important to children and young people.  They provide not only the vital learning our children and young people need to succeed and to tackle the poverty related attainment gap that we are determined to close, but also a safe and secure place that nurtures them.

The school week is the backbone of our education provision and benefits all our children and young people.  The Scottish Government is clear that any changes to the school week must be based on educational benefit to pupils. Any measures that materially reduced the number of hours children spend learning in school would be expected to reduce pupil attainment and wellbeing and undermine efforts to close the poverty related attainment gap. 

To protect this vital provision for children and young people, I am bringing into force the existing provisions in the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 which will enable Scottish Ministers to set the minimum number of learning hours in a school year and propose to use this power to make regulations later this year.

This consultation is an opportunity for local authorities, parents, children and young people and other stakeholders to provide views and evidence about the potential impact of the implementation of this policy.  We will use the responses to inform the regulations and non-statutory guidance I intend to bring forward.

I hope stakeholders can use this consultation to express their views on this important issue.     

Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills


Read the consultation paper


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