By the numbers - school time

7th October 2011 at 01:00

The Government has decided to cut the red tape that surrounds changes to the school day. In August it revoked legislation that required heads to run a formal consultation on alterations to opening hours.

Previously, heads and governors were obliged to consult the local education authority and all employees, hold a public meeting about the proposals, ensure parents were informed in writing at least two weeks before this took place, and then consider any relevant comments made at the meeting.

This consultation had to be carried out at least six weeks before the change.

Alterations to school start and finish times had to be made at the beginning of the academic year, and any other changes at the beginning of a school term.

But this summer these rules were revoked, which means there is now no specific consultation process when changes are proposed. The decision to abandon the rules was made so that mainstream maintained schools could enjoy the same freedoms as academies.

However, the changes are nothing like as radical as one might at first assume. In fact, schools have long had the right to drop the consultation rules. All they had to do was apply to the secretary of state for the "power to innovate" - a status that has existed since 2002.

Very few schools have done so, which suggests that heads are happy with the status quo. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that English pupils do spend longer at their schools than most of their European counterparts, so it might be that heads are inspired to shorten the school day rather than lengthen it.

34 schools used the power to innovate in 2002-09 to change school session times quickly

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1 extra day's holiday for some teachers in 2012 for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

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