Longer school day to be trialled in Wales, Welsh Government announces
Fourteen schools in Wales will trial providing extra hours this academic year, the Welsh Government has announced.
There is up to £2m of funding available to support the scheme, Education and Welsh Language Minister Jeremy Miles has said.
The primary and secondary schools trialling the additional time will be funded to provide an extra five hours of activities each week for groups of learners, with sessions such as art, music and sport, as well as core academic sessions.
The school day trials will be focused on supporting disadvantaged pupils and schools particularly affected during the pandemic. The plans draw on international models and proposals made by the Education Policy Institute.
This work will be carried out in collaboration with the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group, as part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Headteachers will decide on how and what is delivered in each school during the trial period, which is due to start in the spring term and run for up to 10 weeks.
The Welsh Government says local needs will be taken into consideration and that the funding provided for the trial will give schools the discretion to outsource the running of the additional sessions if needed, or to adapt existing activities such as after school clubs.
The Minister also confirmed that over the coming months discussions will take place with young people and their families, education staff, and businesses to seek their views on potentially reforming school term dates.
Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said: “We are committed to reducing educational inequalities and improving learner and staff well-being.
“We know that supporting learners to benefit from an extended range of activities, including arts and sports as well as social activities and academic programmes, can be good for attainment, well-being and wider relationships.
“We are funding trial schools so that they can provide exciting activities around the school day, which can develop personal skills and resilience which will also impact on academic attainment. We will be working closely with schools and local authorities to evaluate the impact on learners and on staff.
“Over the coming months I’ll also be talking to young people, education staff, families and people working beyond the sector such as tourism and public services, to seek their views on reforming the school year.
“Reforming the school year could help to narrow the disruption caused by the long summer holiday on learners, narrow educational inequalities and to support learner and staff well-being.”
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It doesn’t say why a longer day is a good idea. Will there be nap and quiet break times? How will this impact a family with two or more children with different timing days? As for the long summer break yes that has been discussed since the 50s as the farming calendar has become increasingly irrelevant. (I can recall most of us kids absent from school at harvest time) But reform is a knotty one. Maybe alternate a month in school and a fortnight break. But whatever is done has to be the same for all schools for fairness and… Read more »
It sounds on the surface a good idea, but the devil is in the detail. Teachers are already stretched as it is, and an additional hour per day will only add to their stress unless teaching assistants are employed to take up the strain leaving the teacher to mark books etc…. And I totally agree with teaching children life skills . To cook and learn about handling finances is an important part of adulthood, but why not reduce the sumner holiday break, which usually is around six weeks to four, giving an additional two weeks of learning which these skill… Read more »
As a teacher I can see the merits in this. More activities in the late afternoon would be a great benefit to the children. However, will they recruit extra staff to cover this? I know that after a day of teaching I am worn out by 3 o’clock!
Likewise and having personally experienced burnout I’m aware that it is a problem in the profession and a key factor in the numbers of experienced staff leaving. Care needs to be taken as the mental health of many staff is rather precarious right now. I also question the wisdom of introducing yet more changes given current circumstances wrt Covid and huge changes coming under the guise of the new curriculum. I wonder when Mr Miles supposes we should catch a breath?
probably best to suspend Welsh language teaching and catch up with other nations on core subjects