Longest school day tested in Wales

A trial to extend the school day in Wales has begun, the Welsh government said.

Education Minister Jeremy Miles said 13 primary and secondary schools and one university will take part in a pilot scheme, adding an extra five hours a week for groups of pupils.

A total of 1,800 children will have a longer day for 10 weeks and will participate in art, music and sports sessions, as well as academic lessons.

More than a dozen schools will participate in the pilot plan to extend the academic day (Jane Barlow/PA)

(PA cord)

The trial focuses on supporting disadvantaged pupils and schools affected during the pandemic and is part of the Welsh Government’s Cooperation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.

The results of the trial and next steps will be considered with Plaid Cymru as part of the Cooperation Agreement, the Welsh Government said.

Mr Miles said: “We know from research that young people can gain confidence and well-being from this approach, especially disadvantaged students.

“Programs that provide additional enriching and stimulating sessions and help students re-engage in learning can have a greater impact on achievement than those that are solely academic in focus.

“The essay is a great opportunity to collect more evidence about how we use and structure time at school and how that might evolve in the future. We will learn how these additional sessions can improve well-being, academic progress, and increase social and cultural capital.

“As we move forward, we will continue to support schools with even stronger community engagement so that we can fulfill our mission of addressing the impact of poverty on educational achievement and achieving high standards for all.”

Laura Doel, director of the NAHT Cymru education union, said she had not been provided with any evidence to support extending the school day.

“There may be some educational benefits to reforming the school year and we are open to discussions about what those benefits may be,” he said.

“The entire focus of the Welsh government has been on making the school day fit in with family life and work patterns, not to mention the benefit of education for pupils.

“All available evidence suggests that there is little or no data to support keeping students in school longer because longer periods in school do not increase a child’s ability to learn.

“If the Welsh government’s plan is to support working families with a national childcare offer, then they should come out and say so.

“Schools are not providers of child care and our profession of dedicated school leaders, teachers and support staff should not be expected to take on extra work and responsibility to do this.

“We urge the Welsh government to be honest and clear with the profession about the motivation behind school day reform.

“If it’s about child care, then they need to lead that conversation with those who work in that field and allow school leaders to focus on their core business of teaching and learning.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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