The changes, which came into effect at the beginning of September, extend the freedoms that had already been granted to foundation, foundation special, voluntary aided schools and academies, which did not have to comply with regulations and so could already vary their school day.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “We want to give teachers and heads more power over how they run their schools. It shouldn’t be central government or detailed regulation that determines the time a school day starts or the length of the school lunch break. Academies have already benefited from this freedom and used it to help their pupils with catch up lessons or extra-curricular activities. We want all schools to benefit from this freedom if they choose to do so.”
Many academies have already varied their school days to provide extra-curricular activities or additional learning. For example the West London Academy has extended the school day with an additional four hours teaching time per week. And the JCB Academy in Staffordshire has hours that are more like business hours than normal schools and sixth form colleges. The DfE says JCB’s “curriculum encourages a structured and effective use of time, meaning that there should be very little – if any – homework in years 10 and 11 (sixth formers will have some homework, but probably less than other schools)”.
While local authority schools will now have the ability to change their ‘opening hours’, they will still be expected to consult with, and take account of the views of “all interested parties” before making changes to the school day.
Would you like to see your school vary its hours? What effect might this have on teachers? Share your views with your fellow Eteach readers.