Exclusive: Thumbs down to longer day and shorter breaks

Catch-up: Parents see pupil wellbeing support as more important than extended school days and reduced holidays, Ipsos Mori poll finds


More than half of parents cite extra tutoring and support for wellbeing as their preferred ways for schools to help pupils catch up after the pandemic, a new poll reveals.

The poll, by Ipsos Mori, which has been seen exclusively by Tes, shows that only one in five parents prefers longer school days to help their child catch up, while only around a quarter would choose shorter half-term holidays.

This puts the majority of parents in opposition to education secretary Gavin Williamson who advocated a longer school day and shorter holidays as part of his “transformative” catch-up plan last month.

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The education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Colins has also backed longer school days.

However, the poll suggests that parents are more in tune with teachers, who warned this month that they risked “burnout” and that their morale could “completely drop through the floor” if schools placed too much pressure on them to provide extra catch-up lessons.

The Ipsos Mori poll asked parents: “Which, if any [of the following], would you prefer for your child if they needed to catch up on any education lost due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?”

IM 8The most popular answer was “increased wellbeing support for all students” – with 56 per cent saying this – while 55 per cent said “additional tutoring sessions outside school hours”.

Just 21 per cent backed “longer school days”, while only 27 per cent said they would prefer shorter half-term holidays and 41 per cent said shorter summer holidays.

Kelly Beaver, managing director of Public Affairs at Ipsos Mori, said: “It’s clear that parents are thinking about their children’s mental and emotional wellbeing as well as the impact on their learning, with more support for wellbeing and extra tutoring tailored for those who are behind being their top two priorities for catching up on what was lost during the pandemic.”

The online survey, which took place at the start of March before schools fully returned, was responded to by 3,588 adults from across the UK, including 674 parents.

When asked what would be “effective“ in catch-up (as opposed to what was “preferred”), both the general public and parents gave “additional tutoring sessions outside schools hours” as their top answer, while around three-quarter of both groups said “increased wellbeing”.

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The poll showed only 37 per cent of parents said longer school days would be effective compared to 43 per cent of the general public who said this.

And 59 per cent of parents said shorter summer holidays would be effective compared to 70 per cent of the general public.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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