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A potential plus of extended days

How strange that the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly plans to lengthen the school day. It is as if the education service had a death wish. And is this to benefit children? No, it is to enable parents to work longer.

This cock-eyed measure, in which pupils' needs are again the least considered, promises to extend the misery of school for the teachers and the taught.

There is only one way it could prove acceptable to the young. If, after normal hours, pupils were allowed into the workshop, science lab, computer suite and gym to pursue their own interests, this proposal might bring a new dimension to learning and bring a new freedom into the otherwise rigid, timetabled, disciplined day.

Give young people the chance and the choice, and watch them drop all opposition and soak up the knowledge. Learning must be supervised but not directed, provided but not insisted upon.

There is nothing wrong with organisation, as long as it is not once more imposed on people who have had enough of being organised all day long. An extended day seems ill-advised, but it could be an interesting experiment in which pupils could develop their skills in a way they are not allowed to do at present.

A J Marsden

Bury, Lancashire

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