SCHOOL days should be permanently extended with extra classes and longer lunch breaks after the pandemic, Gavin Williamson said today.
The education secretary said there’s a “real strong case” for adding extra lesson time and he’s “enthusiastic” to make sweeping reforms.
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Today ministers announced a root-and-branch review into how the school day is structured and whether it delivers the best benefits for pupils.
There have been suggestions an extra half an hour could be added.
Mr Williamson said he “questioned” whether it was right that some kids are sent home by teachers as early as 2.45pm.
And he also said “condensed” lunch breaks of just half an hour are robbing children of time for extra-curricular activities like sport.
Talking about building back from Covid, he said: “Longer term we do want to see further changes and further improvements.
“That’s why we’re doing the review in terms of time within schools, how best we can use it.
“There’s real benefits to looking at how we can expand the school day. There’s a real strong case for doing so.
“You see some of the highest performing schools across have the ability to offer enrichment activities and other activities and a slightly longer day.
“And it does seem to deliver a considerable benefit, so it’s it’s right and proper that we look at that and how best to do it.”
Mr Williamson said many schools across England already offer a longer day for their pupils within the current system.
He added: “There’s a debate to be had as to whether children should be exiting the school gate as they do in some schools at 2.45pm.
“School lunch in my day used to be an hour long and actually you’re able to do sports and other activities during that time.
“Often in many schools that’s just being condensed down to half an hour, and I’m not sure if that always delivers the best for pupils.”
Asked whether he’s in favour of extending the day, he replied: “I’ve always been enthusiastic about seeing how we can expand this, very much and so.
“I have been and will continue to remain enthusiastic and looking at all the different ways of how we expand the way children are able to be in school.
“I see the benefits directly, and I think it’s really important that we do the work to make the case to see how we can do that.
“Up until this point, we’ve not actually pushed this as hard as maybe we maybe should’ve done.”
The education secretary said officials also looked at overhauling the long summer holidays but “at the moment that’s not something we’re progressing”.
He made the remarks as the Government announced a new £1.4bn pot to help up to six million pupils across England access catch up tutoring.
Kids will be offered 100million hours of extra tuition over the course of the next three years as part of Boris Johnson’s back-to-school blitz.
Face-to-face tutoring is a cornerstone of the PM’s plan to help make sure no pupils are left behind by loss of learning during the pandemic.
Mr Williamson said the plan is a “tutoring revolution” that will help the most disadvantaged catch up on months of missed lessons.
But it has been criticised by education unions who say the amount of money on offer falls way below what is needed.
The Government’s own catch-up tsar, Sir Kevan Collins, said a whopping £15bn will be needed to even out the effects of schools being shut for Covid.