Exclusive: 8am-6pm extended school day on the table

Government said to be weighing up whether to opt for mandatory extra 30 min extension or to fund a longer, voluntary 8-6 school day
22nd May 2021, 6:07pm
Amy Gibbons

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Exclusive: 8am-6pm extended school day on the table

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/exclusive-8am-6pm-extended-school-day-table
Covid Catch-up: Headteachers Made 7 Proposals To Help Schools Bounce Back

Two dramatically different approaches to extending the school day are being considered by government for its post Covid education recovery plan, Tes has been told.

Ministers are weighing up whether they should opt to pay for a compulsory half hour extension with an academic focus or fund a longer 8am-6pm school day that would be voluntary.  

Sources say the extra provision under the latter option would likely involve some extra-curricular activities rather than just more academic lessons.

The government is also understood to be planning to set a new target for the number of teachers it wants to train before the end of this Parliament, as part of the education recovery plan, Tes has been told.


Catch-up tsar: Extended school day should be compulsory

Covid recovery: Asking teachers to do more has a price

Background: Sir Kevan Collins wants teachers to increase learning time


Details of the plan, being spearheaded by the education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins, are still being thrashed out. Much will depend on how much funding for 10 Downing Street can secure from the Treasury, with a total yet to be agreed. 

It is understood the plan be built around the "three Ts" of: tutoring, teaching and (extra) time (in school). 

On extending the school day, Sir Kevan has previously said that teachers will be asked to increase learning time for pupils as part of the catch-up effort.

But until now, it has been unclear how the government might make this happen.

Tes has been told that the first thing ministers are considering doing is to set a minimum expectation for the length of the school day, which will look similar to the typical six to six-and-a-half-hours currently on offer at most schools.

The aim of this move would be to clamp down on a small proportion of primaries that only open for half a day at a time, the source said. Any schools not running full days would need to extend their provision.

Sources say the government would then either go for the compulsory half hour academic extension or the broader but voluntary 8am-6pm day. 

Earlier this week, Sir Kevan said that any plans to extend the school day should be compulsory - in order to "guarantee" disadvantaged pupils attend.

Appearing before the House of Lords' Youth Unemployment Committee on Tuesday, the catch-up tsar said the evidence indicates that "the more voluntary things are, the less likely they're going to get to the hard-to-reach bits of your community".

Tonight Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, said he did not favour the compulsory extra half hour option.

"I do think there's an incredibly narrow view if they think that simply by creating extra academic provision for 30 minutes a day, that that is going to be the solution after the worst global pandemic we've had in a century," he said. 

"It's not addressing the most important thing, which is the quality of teaching, quality of support or quality of enrichment.

"Far better I think is to say to schools and colleges, 'look we think it would be good to be able to provide more quality time'.

"'You have a look at what that means in your context, here's resources to do it, and yes, you'll be held accountable for it. But you're the people who know best'." 

Ministers will also be considering how parents are likely to receive such plans. Focus groups have suggested that more formal lessons might face resistance from some parents concerned about pupils' mental health.

Tes has been told that under the "teaching" pillar of the proposed education recovery plan, the government is planning to set a goal for the number of teachers it wants to train over the remainder of this Parliament.

This target would take into account those who access initial teacher training (ITT), the new Early Career Framework (ECF), and the reformed National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), the source said.

The tutoring pillar is likely to involved some extension of the existing National Tutoring Programme. However Sir Kevan has already expressed his view that schools should be given more control over who delivers the catch-up sessions.

A DfE spokesperson said: "We are working with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure all pupils have the chance to recover from the impact of the pandemic as quickly and comprehensively as possible - and we have appointed Sir Kevan Collins as education recovery commissioner to advise on this work."

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