Williamson: 'Too many schools' restricting lunch hours

Education secretary criticises schools over shortened lunch breaks as he outlines plan to review length of school day

John Roberts

School playground lunch break

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said "too many schools" are restricting lunch breaks, while outlining plans to review the length of the school day to support Covid catch-up.

Extending the school day had been expected to form a central part of the government's education recovery plans.

But instead, in a controversial announcement last week, the Department for Education said only that a review would take place later this year to look at the length of the school day, before the government spending review.

Mr Williamson was facing MPs today for the first time since the government's education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, resigned over the levels of funding made available for Covid catch-up in last week's announcement.


Resignation: Sir Kevan Collins' decision to quit 'is a real blow'

Recovery plan: No extended school day in new £1.4bn catch-up announcement

Reaction: Catch-up plan a 'paltry', 'disappointing' 'damp squib'


Mr Williamson said: "As we talk about the school day, we've seen too many schools go down a route of actually restricting what children have the benefit of doing.

"A school lunch hour has become increasingly restricted and is increasingly a school lunch half hour as against an hour.

"So what we are wanting to do is to ensure that as we do this review, we look at all the options so children are not able to just benefit from better academic attainment, extra support in English and maths, but also enrichment and the other activities they can benefit from from being in school as well."

Tes revealed that Sir Kevan resigned last week after the government announced plans for catch-up funding, which was less than a tenth of what he said was needed.   

Sir Kevan was unveiled by Boris Johnson as the government's catch-up tsar five months ago, tasked with overseeing the creation of a plan that would ensure pupils could recover after two periods of school closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was revealed last week that Sir Kevan had asked the government to fund a £15 billion catch-up package but, on Wednesday, the Department for Education announcement set out just £1.4 billion worth of spending.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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