A Scottish council is exploring the option of introducing a four-day week in all primary and secondary schools, it has emerged.
The idea is said to be one of a wide range of early options which may be considered by North Ayrshire Council over the coming years.
The option for primary school to begin when children turn six is also being explored by the Labour-led council.
No decisions have been taken on the proposals, which are being looked at as the local authority tries to deal with planned spending cuts.
Councillors in North Ayrshire last week agreed a budget for 2011-2012 which includes efficiency savings to the tune of £8.9m.
Looking ahead to future financial years, one option being explored by officials in the area is to reduce the school week from five days to four in a bid to save more than £2m.
Carol Kirk, corporate director of education at North Ayrshire Council, said raising educational attainment was a key priority and she stressed that any plans to alter the current system would be “fully investigated and discussed”.
She said other local authorities in Scotland were also exploring the four-day idea.
Ms Kirk said: “North Ayrshire Council this week approved a balanced budget for the forthcoming year (2011/12) and noted indicative budget requirements for the following two years (2012-14).
“The indicative requirements for the financial year 2013/14 included a wide range of early options which may be considered by the council in the coming years.
“No decisions have been taken on these options which are for exploration only at this stage.
“The options include examining ways in which the council might deliver the current education services in a more efficient and effective manner to allow the council to continue to develop early years provision and maintain high quality teaching and learning.
“The option for children to start primary school at age six has been widely discussed by education professionals across the UK for several years now and is already in operation in many other European countries. The option to deliver the statutory 25 hours of education per week over four rather than five days is also being explored by other local authorities in Scotland.
“One of North Ayrshire Council’s key priorities is to raise educational attainment in local schools and any proposals to alter the current education service would require to be fully investigated and discussed by elected members before any decision would be reached.”