Updated: Jun 22, 2021
News has broke out that school days in England could be extended by 30 minutes to help catch up with missed lessons as a result of COVID restrictions. But what do the students affected think, could it potentially do more harm than good?
A leaked presentation drawn up by education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Jones revealed proposals for students to engage in a minimum of 35 hours a week, suggesting that each pupil will need 100 extra hours of schooling a year starting from 2022. The proposal sets out to help students catch up with lessons and school time missed as a result of COVID restrictions across the past year.
The 56 page document also outlines plans for extra tutoring for the 5 million pupils across England in most need of support as well as professional development programmes for over 500,000 teachers.
It's reported that teachers will receive a raise in wages to cover the extra hours of teaching but even so teaching unions have harshly critiqued the proposals, suggesting it could potentially do the pupils more harm than good.
And it seems the teachers aren't the only ones who are sceptical. We reached out to a number of students from years 9-13 and this is what they had to say on the matter...
Rosharna, year 12, expressed concerns that extending the school day would mean she wouldn't have time to engage in extra curricular activity, writing "school being extended? when will I have time for sports, my job and just spending time to myself." She also added "who's going to take 30 extra minutes of school seriously when the majority of us will just want to go home."
In agreement, another year 12 pupil said "everyone is tired by the end of the school day, ask any teacher and they'll tell you the last lesson of the day is already hard enough to get through as no one is listening because they know its almost time to go home. Adding an extra 30 minutes to the day just won't be productive."
One GCSE student spoke also about the added pressure of extending the school day and suggested that the freedom to engage in independent revision on their own schedule would be far more effective. On the other hand he recognised that GCSE students in particular need "as much extra time as they can get" to prepare for upcoming examinations and appreciated the sentiment behind the proposal but believed forcing students to engage in longer school days perhaps isn't the answer to the problem.
Charlotte, year 9, wanted to know how the extra 30 minutes would affect after school clubs. She worries that if clubs were to start 30 minutes later than usual she may not make it home until gone half past 6, sharing her fears that in winter months the added half an hour could be the difference between her having to walk home in the dark instead of daylight which made her feel "nervous and uncomfortable."
The general consensus amongst pupils has been overwhelmingly negative and suggests that if the the proposals were to be approved, teachers would struggle greatly to get kids to co-operate and fully engage in out of hour lessons. This could result in vast amounts of time, money and resources wasted.
Educational physiologists have also explored the negative impact it could have on school children's mental health and made recommendations for extended school days to focus on play, socialising, sport and creative mediums such as music and art. Vice Chair of the DECP, Vivian Hill wrote “If the school day is to be extended, it’s important is that we don’t just fill those extra hours with more and more formal teaching sessions."
She added“Children don’t have to be sat at desks in a classroom to learn, giving them space to play sports, paint, try different crafts, and socialise will all lead to learning and the development of important life skills." Hill also urged the government to "use this as an opportunity to re-set the approach we take to education and our children within schools."
The proposed plan will be spread across the course of three years and is thought to cost around £15bn. Although, it's rumoured that the Treasury will only be offering £1.5bn to help fund the project. Ultimately, the funding will depend on 10 downing streets support and according to 'The Times' PM Boris Johnson seemed to be in favour of the proposal after being briefed on some of the key recommendations outlined in the document.
The finalised 'catch-up' plan for schools and colleges is set to officially be published before the summer holidays.
What are your thoughts? Are you a parent, teacher or student and have a strong opinion on the matter? Get in contact via our socials and share your take on it with us.