The DfE wants all state schools to consider extending the school day to give pupils “character building activities” that will increase their engagement in schoolwork.
England’s maintained schools should run a longer day to prevent pupils from working-class white families falling behind other pupils, the DfE believes. All primaries and secondaries should provide extra-curricular activities including sport, cadet forces, the Duke of Edinburgh award and debating societies to develop pupils’ life skills, the Independent reports.
Schools should plan their day based on “what works in the best interests of their pupils’ education and not simply on tradition,” the DfE announced.
The DfE didn’t set out the length of an extended school day, but research from the Education Endowment Foundation found that “smaller increases are associated with greater gains, and with more than three or four hours a day the benefit decreases”. Some schools have already lengthened the day from seven or eight hours to 12.
In June a report from the Education Select Committee found that many working-class white pupils, especially boys, were performing worse in GCSEs than any other ethnic group. A longer school day would benefit pupils from poor backgrounds, because it would give them time to “complete work in a calm and supportive environment”.
The report stated: “Longer days can mean schools have more time to work with pupils who need additional help, and can open up opportunities for pupils to access purposeful, character building activities that help them build the confidence to succeed when they leave school. Some schools, including some in disadvantaged areas, are already recognising the benefits of longer days and are re-organising their timetables to ensure a good balance of teaching, extra-curricular activities and self-directed work.”
Do you think an extended school day will help white pupils from working-class families? And would it be feasible in every state school?