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Plans for a 32.5 Hour Minimum School Week: Sector Response

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The Schools White Paper sets out a series of new measures to support the delivery of these ambitions, one of these being that schools will offer a minimum school week of 32.5 hours by September 2023.

Sector Response

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We are unconvinced by the benefits of introducing a minimum expectation on the length of the school week of 32.5 hours.

“The vast majority of schools already meet, or come very close to meeting, this expectation. It will be important to understand the factors which may lead to fewer hours in some schools. For example, it may be the case in some rural schools that start and finish times are affected by transport arrangements. Adding time on to the school week may sound straightforward, but there are many issues which need to be considered in individual schools, and we would encourage the government not to rush any changes.

“We look forward to seeing the full details of the schools white paper and the SEND and alternative provision green paper.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The education sector is crying out for a Schools White Paper and SEND Green Paper that address the huge challenges that battered and bruised schools face to support all their pupils during and beyond a pandemic.

‘The expectation of a 32.5 hour week for pupils is a classic example of government trying to hit a target but missing the point. The vast majority of schools’ days are of this length or a little more or less. We are looking for much more sophisticated change. Where is the multifaceted recovery plan? What should happen in the extra 10-15 mins some pupils will now spend in school? How will pupil wellbeing and education staff workloads be improved to ensure their time together is as impactful as both want and deserve?

‘Children, parents and those that teach and support them need more from a government policy platform than easy headlines like this.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“We hope that during the year before these proposals are implemented, there can be a review of the evidence supporting this plan. Simply adding five or ten minutes to a day is unlikely to bring much, if any, benefit. The government says it will be guided by evidence – they need to meet that undertaking.”

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