Watching ‘How Tough are our Kids?’, the recent TV screening of the experiences of the Chinese School at the outstanding Bohunt School, set me wondering about length of the school day again. I felt rather embarrassed seeing the stampede at 3pm of our students heading home, while the Chinese School as in China went on into the evening. I might add the later sessions were not chalk and talk but individual mentoring but that’s is another discussion topic.
Independent Schools have always taught a longer day but with this comes longer holidays. City Technology Colleges (CTCs) way back in 1990 were the first state schools required to teach a longer day. This was to enable technology and breadth to be included. At Haberdashers we taught 8.30-4pm followed by Enrichment Activities. These schools are proven success stories. Then we have University Technology Colleges (UTCs) first opened in 2010 which are also required to teach a longer day this is to include vocational courses and ideally mirrors the working day in industry, 9-5. However the toll on staff is being felt. They have marking and preparation too after all. The holidays are not longer for recuperation either.
What is the best length of teaching day to maximise progress? How do we fit in vocational and academic teaching plus enrichment activities. Should class teachers also have to deliver the co- curriculum? Never mind the need for Professional Development and training days required for Development Planning.
Common sense should prevail. We must critically balance the needs of the students and the staff. We have to ensure the curriculum is manageable. This must be down to the Head in the end and there must be discretion depending on circumstance. Heads know their students and staff and understand their context. Let’s leave it to them to have the length of day that brings their students success and opportunity and is manageable for their staff. Somewhere between the current length of day in China and in the UK would be reasonable I suspect.