The UK government could extend the school day in England by 30 minutes to help students catch up with lost time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If plans get approved, the program would see the school week extended to 35 hours a week, totalling 100 hours of extra schooling, from 2022. Funding for this proposal is rumoured to be around £15 billion, costing an additional £700 per pupil.
The plan was spearheaded by the government’s education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins. His 56-page document also hinted at an additional year of schooling for sixth form students if A-Levels are not completed in time.
COVID-19 is primarily responsible for this educational domino effect. Across the country, from March 2020 onwards, students completed the latter half of their school year remotely. Students of all ages used video call platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to substitute the lack of class room time. Additionally, many GCSE and A-Level exams were either cancelled or postponed, with mock exam and predicted grades used to calculate final results.
Collins’ school recovery plan focuses on his “three Ts”: time, teaching and tutoring. In terms of where the funding will go, around £12 billion of the £15 billion allotted would be paid directly to schools, with additional support for underprivileged students.
Regarding the school day change-up, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would “give parents the confidence” that their children are being supported. This comes after the BBC reported that many headteachers were dissatisfied with the £1.4 billion coronavirus recovery package.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that extending the school day was “very much still on the agenda”, despite the masses of parental dismay for the proposal.
There are also concerns over the budget of Collins’ plan. Kevan’s report highlights it could cost £1.5 trillion. However, the treasury is only offering £1.5 billion, 1000 times less of what is allegedly needed to help the education system return to pre-pandemic levels.
Reports indicate the UK’s education system was among the most brutally hit from COVID-19, with some of the most prolonged closures of schools and universities in all of Europe.
The General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said: “The devil will be in the detail of any extended-day proposals. We know that quality of teaching is more important than quantity.”