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Longer Days and Shorter Holidays - The Debate

James is a Primary Teacher working through Protocol Education Nottingham. Today's post discusses the question of whether UK school days should be extended and holidays shortened as proposed by the DFE. 

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Longer days, shorter holidays…

It has emerged today that Education Secretary Michael Gove is toying with the idea of lengthening the school day while also shortening school holidays at the same time. Knowing that this would cause much discussion among teachers I am interested to hear what others think.

According to reports, Mr. Gove is basing his reasoning on the successful East Asian education system where it is not uncommon for students to remain at school long into the evening, sometimes even eating supper at school. He also claims to have support from many UK schools who already have a slightly longer school day.

Now the first thing that should be addressed is teacher pay and workload. Teaching is a job after all! If you were a receptionist and your boss told you your holidays were being cut you would feel aggrieved. If you were a nurse and your employer told you your hours had increased but your pay had not then you would be furious. Why should teaching be any different? Surely the only way this would even begin to work is if pay was increased to match these extra hours.

Secondly, in my experience longer hours do not necessarily equate to better learning. Learning is more about quality than quantity in my opinion. Up until the age of 16 my school day ended at 3.00pm, using the traditional five 1-hour lesson pattern. I moved schools at 16 and that school finished 50 minutes later, at 3.50pm. 50 minutes doesn’t sound like much but I can tell you it made the school day ‘drag’. Far from meaning a guaranteed extra 50 minutes of learning students would seemingly ‘switch off’ towards the end of the day and the extra time that was meant for learning would not really materialize.This said, if an engaging learning environment was in place and attention was maintained then that extra 50 minutes could possibly have made a big difference to learning.

Personally, I am a big believer that students should have a decent amount of time at home after school, for family and sport activities. If children arrived home at 5pm and they then ate supper then that leaves little time before bed. Similarly, teachers need ‘down time’ at home with their families. Take this away and even more top teachers will surely quit?

Please feel free to give your thoughts. I’m guessing that this could be a big talking point in the coming months! 

Please comment on Blogger 

Tags: James, Secondary Teacher, Teach in Nottingham, Department of education, Michael Gove, Protocol Education, Supply Teacher

Category: Australian Teachers

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