THE attainment gap across West Dunbartonshire “will widen” if the council’s plan for the phased return of school pupils goes ahead, the local authority has been warned.

West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) has announced that pupils in S1-S3 will only be guaranteed one day a week in class, meanwhile, primary pupils, S4, S5 and S6 pupils will be returning to two days a week from August 12.

When not in school, children will be learning at home online, and offline, with materials provided to do so.

But Councillor John Mooney said the plans are “simply unacceptable” and has submitted an emergency motion for today’s full council meeting.

It states: “This will have a devastating impact on the learning of our young people which could cause disadvantage and prevent them achieving their ambitions.

“This is a dire situation for the families who will struggle to balance work and home schooling and could lead to some parents having to give up work to support their children’s education.”

Fellow Labour Councillor Douglas McAllister echoed Cllr Mooney’s concerns but put the blame on the Scottish Government for their “utter shambles”.

He said: “The WDC plan is not good enough, and I certainly can’t support it. The opposition councillors haven’t been involved in the drawing up of this plan.

“There is a lack of consistency in regard to each school and each year group. I don’t know how hard-working parents are going to plan for their return to work. It genuinely is an utter mess.

“There hasn’t been a lead from the Scottish Government - it’s effectively just been left to the local authorities.

“I certainly don’t blame WDC staff for what’s going on. They are quite literally working night and day. But every time they work up a plan, the Scottish Government make more demands and the plans have to change again.

“Without any support or resources, it’s very hard. We’ve had no additional education funding allocated to West Dunbartonshire at all to cover the Covid-19 crisis. Not a single penny.”

The council told the Post that the model developed is the “only feasible way to return pupils under the current two metre physical distancing restrictions”.

A spokeswoman added: “The model was developed with teachers, our trade union partners and discussed with parent councils.

“We are adhering to Scottish Government and public health guidance and are reviewing our plans daily in line with this.

“We recognise the impact the closure of schools has had on young people and understand the concerns of parents and carers and will continue to do everything we can to support them.

“The time away from school will have the greatest impact on the most disadvantaged young people and we continue to develop targeted programmes to support them.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “When schools reopen, we expect councils to have made arrangements that maximise the time that pupils spend having face-to-face learning safely, and we will work with local authorities to address any resourcing issues.

“We don’t want blended learning to be in place a moment longer than is necessary, so we will be working with councils to return to full-time in-school learning as soon as it is safe to do so.

“The Scottish Government’s regular three-weekly reviews of the coronavirus regulations now includes specific consideration of the evidence and data relating to transmission within schools. Where that suggests safety restrictions can be lifted or eased without putting pupils and teachers at undue risk, we will do so.”