Working-class pupils need more time at school

The education select committee wants schools to consider a 12-hour day to help working-class white British pupils, and also paying teachers in tough schools more.

Figures show that poor white British pupils perform worse in GCSEs than any other ethnic group, the Telegraph reports.  Just under a third of them left school last summer with five A* to C grades, compared to six other ethnic groups, ranging from 76.8% of Chinese pupils to 43.2% of black Caribbean pupils.

The Commons education select committee says longer school days should be considered by schools to give poor British youngsters ‘space and time’ to do their homework. It found that these pupils spend fewer evenings each week doing homework and are more likely to play truant than their peers from other ethnic groups. The MPs recommended that schools should “provide time at the end of the school day for children to complete homework”, extending the usual seven or eight hours to 12, running lessons and extra-curricular activities from 7am until 7pm.

The move has already been backed by Michael Gove, who introduced new rules giving schools extra powers to extend the school day and the academic year.

The committee’s report stated: “Poor white children in rural and coastal areas have been ‘unseen’ for too long; unless steps are taken, the potential of white working-class children will be left unlocked, and the effects of the current trend will continue to be felt beyond the school gates.”

The MPs also suggested that teachers working in tough schools should be offered incentives such as higher wages, because institutions serving deprived white communities “need a better chance of winning”.

Do you agree that a longer school day is the solution to underachievement in white working-class pupils?  And would paying teachers in tough schools more help the problem?

35 thoughts on “Working-class pupils need more time at school

  1. Am I missing something ….. HOMEwork! Isn’t that work that should be done at home? I actually am in despair at what Gove is trying to do…why try to shift the responsibility to schools!

  2. Hilarious! Do school staff not deserve some work life balance? When would we prepare for lessons? When would we mark work? Or is the plan to employ young energetic staff by tiring out the older more experienced so they either quit or die? These scenarios would save a fortune on pensions. Why do I always feel that teachers arethe scapegoats? Get an MP to bd a teacher in a tough school on thei own for a week with planning and marking responsibilities and see how they farewithout their back staff to do all their work for them. Disgraceful.

  3. So the brilliant idea is to give pupils who truant a longer school day from which to truant from. In order to drive up their achivements. Hmm

    Is there to be any money to pay for teachers to work this 12 hour day? After all if teaching is to become just another job rather than a caring profession then the incentives available to `normal` jobs should apply. Bonuses, the ability to take holidays at any time of the year. A free job market by which I can negotiate my pay, pay for all the little extras the teachers do, overtime. All those perks that ordinary workers enjoy.

  4. Just for once, report on the remarkable teachers, the ones that bust a gut to help those they teach. The ones that inspire, nurture and lift ceilings of expectations of life chances in spite of everything! The ones who get into school at 7:30 and leave at 6 only to start narking again once they have re-introduced themselves to their own children.

    There are thousands of them out there and you won’t have to look too hard.

  5. This will drive more teachers out of profession, less people entering it and more truency.

  6. Obviously, it would be entirely unreasonable to expect teachers to work a 12 hour day, which would presumably mean we would do shifts? (Eg 7-3 or 11-7) if so, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed. What really needs to be a priority is improving working conditions for teachers so that highly qualified and skilled people stop leaving the profession. It also needs to be made more family-friendly; part time positions should become the norm so that parents can fit work in around family life!

  7. The trouble is, MPs are so far removed from the ‘real’ world, that they genuinely think this is a solution. Perhaps the education select committee should spend a term teaching in one of these deprived schools before coming up with their schemes?

  8. I’m not sure where to begin with this one! A couple of thoughts: most teachers already do at least a 12 hour day so do we add the time we do in addition on? So that’s about a 16 hour day if you’re lucky (not including the work at weekends). Most of my kids are shattered at the end of the day as it, I’m not sure I’d get anther 4 or 5 hours out of them, poor little mites! Why don’t we just make boarding school compulsory for all children if we are going by the experiences of the government, I mean it didn’t do them any harm did it! Look how balanced their view point is! (That’s sarcasm just in case anyone didn’t recognise it)!

  9. I personally think that their underachievement has nothing to do with school. Has Gove ever seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Have the basic needs sorted out first and then you can expect kids to think about and wanting to do well at school. Why should everything be left up to schools?

  10. Shifts are fine if we were talking about manufacturing goods but we are not. Job shares in teaching rely on very good communication, organisation and planning. I agree that working conditions need to be vastly improved.

  11. As if teachers do not have enough to deal with already without stressing out pupils even more, children need better resources outside of school, presumably talking about help with work, an under funded and good area to start maybe would be youth centres/workers.

  12. Lynn, just love the delicate phrasing, made me laugh. Obviously with the extra hours at school, surely Mr Gove and co, would only be too happy to pick up the added admin work that is bound to be added to a ‘normal’ day? Umm

  13. Why not go the whole hog? You may as well make schools intow weekly boarding as all these children will do is sleep at home …. no time to interact with their families as it will (or at least should!) be bedtime by the time they get home. I thank my lucky starts that I am at the end of my career ….. I wouldn’t want to be facing the long term damage that is being inflicted on the education system

  14. How wonderful it would be to offer my staff more money for working in a predominantly low performing, low aspiration, low achieving white populated school … Shame the budget won’t stretch to that eh?
    I agree with Lynn that the pupils are exhausted at the end of the day how on earth could we make them stay longer and try and cram their brains full of more learning without putting them off the Joy of learning from the start?
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have these little robots start where they are expected to, progress at an average/ above average rate, reach all the milestones at the time they are expected and leave on track for their secondary education? Isn’t it a shame that our ‘robots’ are individuals who have their own rates of learning and problems at home that even as adults we’d struggle to deal with.
    Sorry rant over!

  15. So this means getting into school at 6am to get ready for the day and leaving at 7.30, what happened to work life balance then Mr Gove. We teachers work more hours at home as stated by others, not including doing break and lunch time duties. When do we get down time or does that not count for us because we have made a choice to teach, what’s next make holidays shorter as well, so we have less time to find a cheap holiday?. Get a life MR Gove try paying teachers ans teaching assistants a realistic going wage and stop all these academy’s that pay more SLT than we need while getting rid of the ones who do all the work. That’s my rant over. Pass to Mr Gove and I will meet with him and tell him like it is.

  16. Additional time at the end of the school day might be a good option for some students that don’t have space, peace or encouragement to work at home. How this would be funded I don’t know- more than an hour or so would be too much for most children. Regards extra pay for teachers at difficult schools – incentives are always an option although I’m not sure if an enhanced salary would be enough – would additional resources and smaller classes be a better option?

  17. I remember changing to a two week timetable so we could add the ICT provision, we ended up with additional groups of students and of course additional lesson prep and workload. All without any extra pay, as it was expected….. I suppose the next thing we will be told is that the extra time at school will give us the time to do all our marking and lesson prep, thus improving our work life balance.

  18. Teachers already work at least a 12 hour day if we include marking, assessment and preparation for the following day.
    I am a headteacher and I know that our children are tired by the end of the day because they are expected to achieve and to make progress so they do intervention work in the afternoons to close gaps in learning.
    It would be so refreshing for Mr Gove to visit a school like mine, which is full of those children he wants to target his latest ‘thoughts’ on. It isn’t just about adding hours to the day, it’s about making sure that the children are not neglected by their parents and that they come into school fed, in clean clothes and without having watched a domestic violence scene at home the night before. 87% of the children in my school are vulnerable for one reason or another… Michael Gove come and see what some of the real schools do and we STILL strive for high standards every day!!

  19. 12 hours a day, why stop there – why not 7 days a week and 52 weeks of the year?

  20. Hmmm…….just a little point that everyone may have forgotten….. The working time directive makes it illegal to work more than 48 hours a week ( I know, I know…..but those hours aren’t “working”, or so Mr Gove would have us believe) so by getting us to work 12 hour days he’s just introduced a 4 day working week for us. Cheers!! (Also sarcasm if you hadn’t picked on it yet.)

  21. Ridiculous, Michael Gove has far out stayed his welcome and needs to go. Children are shattered as it is and so are their teachers. Working longer does not equal working better!

  22. 15 or so years ago when it was stated that “Black” pupils were under-performing. It was said to be because they were a different colour!! The result was that Caribbean and African teachers got together and used church halls and all available spaces they could find and put on extra classes in all academic subjects for African and Caribbean students after school and at the weekend. Privately funded schools were also set up funded by Caribbeans and Africans to ensure that pupils got into university.

    It is now stated that white working class boys are under performing because of teachers!!

    It should also be remembered that politicians have been informing young people over the past 10 to 15 years that they have rights and privileges, with no responsibilities. If their parents reprimand them for bad behaviour they could telephone some local organisation……

    May I suggest that people have a look at Thomas Friedman’s book “the World is Flat” and how it relates to education: Basically, the world is no longer “over-influenced” by one group of people from the West. The people who were at the bottom will not remain there and that human beings have long memories.

  23. I am a qualified teacher, but since my daughter was born I have worked as a teaching assistant as I would never have spent quality time with my child as my hours as a teacher were 7.30am until 11pm. Even as a TA I still take work home and work well beyond the 37 hours a week. If school hours were to be extended when do teachers finish their planning as PPA is not enough time, mark books and write reports. Even my 8 year old complains as she says “When will I fit in Ballet lessons , in which she works for exams, and swimming lesson.” however the words that really broke my heart were “most importantly when would I do things with you, as I will need to go to bed”. This comes from a little girl who lives in a working class family, who preforms off the top end of the scale in her national tests, who does come home from school tired on a 9 – 3.20 day. So when would we be expected to have family time! I also mix with other working parents and those that really care about their children and family life, usually end up with children who preform well in school, and I know they are not happy with this idea either.

  24. Where will we fit in after school music lessons, dance classes, gymnastics? A lot of small businesses will lose their business if they can’t start until 7pm. Is this another idea that hasn’t really been thought through? Where is the money going to come from to pay for the extra hours supervision required, surely not by teachers who have been in school since 7am already??? No detail. It won’t come to anything. Throw the envelope away.

  25. I already work a 12 hour day as a junior school teacher. when will I now do the work I do after school? As usual Mps are out of touch and have no clue about the hours we are already working!

  26. A day has 24 hours. If a teacher would work 16 hours it’s 8 hours left for for the journey to and back from work, brief family life including; shopping on the way to or from work, some meal to stay alive, some minutes dedicated teacher’s children and partner, some housework and finally as called quick sleep. Question is: how long can you live like that before you reach professional burned out stage? How well the teacher’s children will do at school? What about teacher’s well being and self-development, which are inseparable.

    The parents, who are responsible for their children, would they want to see such teacher teaching their children. As a parent I would definitely NOT.

  27. I say NO to longer days.
    Try rethinking teaching We teach the same as 1954 in boxes sorry classrooms that are fuller than ever as small schools are closed.We still try to teach Maths and Lit to children who loose the will to learn on the way as they are practical learners .Non teachers change the order in which we teach as with this year.People get richer from change children do not improve. Children are less educated New teachers have little general knowledge.HORSES FOR COURSES! We need a variety of schools not just in name .Teach children through their interests.SMALLER CLASSES-PRACTICAL SCHOOLS and ACADEMIC SCHOOLS teaching for real jobs taking in own areas needs

  28. Well… as for rural schools, the buses leave at a set time. Farming kids will have work to do when they get home. My daughter is mentally exhausted at the end of the school day because she is dyslexic. My school is already open until 5 for homework; there is usually about ten kids out of a potential 700!

  29. Why people have to keep on re-inventing the wheel defeats me. I have not met one student or parent who is happy to go along with a 12 hour day. A lot of the places I teach do not even have a Black Board let alone lap top, projector or interactive whiteboard, text books are a dream. I teach in the North east of England, how about learning to walk before you run.

  30. Ditto to Glen’s comments. Secondary Moderns and Technical schools were being phased out in favour of large Comprehensives in my early years as a Teacher. My staff room was full of dire predictions. The prognosis was of ruin and failure based on the general view that education was about providing for the wide range of educational requirements. One size does not fit all.
    In my experience English parents are more likely to undervalue education, leading to an under motivated group in English society. Again from experience parents in the North of England and Scotland are far more likely to produce motivated hard working children. This has been for as long as I have been teaching, since 1980, equally true of the majority of children I have taught from Asian families. The battle is not for longer hours, but of bringing parents on board.
    Smaller classrooms with child centred pedagogy would provide a positive experience. Listening to adults talk about who inspired them it is also a specific charismatic teacher. Teachers need to be allowed to enthuse about their subjects without the restraints of an over restrictive curriculum and complexities of overly large classes and educational establishments.

  31. It sounds to ne that some government officials are determined not to let other ethnic groups overtake ‘poor British white students’ in the results stakes

  32. So, that’s a 60 hour week for students to contend with. Hell! What happened to a childhood are we looking to phase that out altogether now?

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