School day could be extended as Conservative minister promises to “look at examples”

Labor criticized new Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi for failing to support children with new skills, targeted learning support and new activities instead of ‘extended hours’

School days could be extended to help children catch up on learning lost due to the Covid pandemic.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told MPs he would look at some “great examples” of longer days.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who chairs the special education committee, has suggested that an extension of the school day would increase educational attainment.

As recently as last week, Rishi Sunak said the government had “maximized” catch-up funding for schools.

In the budget, the Chancellor pledged an additional £ 2bn for the resumption of education after COVID, bringing COVID catch-up spending since 2019 to nearly £ 5bn, rejecting calls for more money for help children catch up on learning.

Labor criticized the Tories for “patrolling” and failing to give children a safe recovery plan.

Mr Halfon told the House of Commons: “We know, thanks to the Education Policy Institute, that it increases the level of education by two to three months, especially among disadvantaged students.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi wants to make disadvantaged students a priority


Tayfun Salci / ZUMA Press Wire / REX / Shutterstock)

“We know that a longer school day, according to the culture, media, sports department, increases the calculation by 29%. So that increases the level of education.

“Will he at least consider pilot projects in disadvantaged areas of the country where we can have a longer school day? “

Mr Zahawi replied: ‘I think the priority should be for children and students, who have the least amount of time available to them to recover, which is why the £ 800million for the extra 16-19 40 hours of education is so important.

“Plus £ 1bn for secondary and primary, making a total of £ 5bn in salvage money.

“There are great examples … of a longer school day that I’m going to look at.

“The average school day is now 6.5 hours and I would like everyone to come close to that average.”

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green told Zahawi to “take control”

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said: “The kids have already had 115 days of school, missing out on learning and spending time with their friends. The Conservatives’ response is a flip-flop. face, difficulties and inability to act.

“Labor believes that students should have more time in school for breakfast clubs, targeted learning support and new activities for each child as part of our recovery plan.

“We believe the best way to support children’s recovery is to spend time with friends and teachers to learn new skills, not just extended hours in the classroom.

“The Education Secretary has had ample time to consider the matter, but is still not listening to calls from teachers, parents and education experts for a clear and comprehensive stimulus package. Zahawi must take back control. . ”

Ahead of the budget, Mr. Sunak told Times Radio, “After looking at everything, it’s pretty clear that the two things that make the biggest difference in children’s learning are tutoring in small groups and making sure that teachers have all the development, training and support they need. must be absolutely awesome.

“We’re pretty much maxed out on these things. Because there is a constraint on the quantity that can be reasonably delivered. “

Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his 2021 budget last week


Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders union, said in a statement: “The gains that could be made by lengthening the school day must be weighed against the costs of such a strategy, including impact on student mental health, reduced family time and less time for extracurricular activities.

“The happiness and well-being of children must be a priority as well as their education.”

Former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield had supported longer school days as she warned that one in six children may never be able to make up school time without the right support.

Earlier this year, then government Education Restoration Commissioner Sir Kevan Collins said schools could take years to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

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