Schools could open until 6pm for up to 51 weeks a year

Dec 23, 2013 by

Schools could open until 6pm for up to 51 weeks a year under controversial government proposals to create more flexible days, it was revealed today.

Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to give schools more powers over the working hours available to teachers as well as holidays and pay.

Schools already have the freedom to set their own term dates and vary the length of days, which could signal the end of the long summer holidays for thousands of children.

However, in a submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), an independent panel that vets teachers’ pay, Mr Gove is pushing for an overhaul of teachers’ working conditions.

He said that many schools are unable to take advantage of current government reforms ‘because of the restrictive terms under which they currently employ teachers’.

Teachers’ contracts stipulate that they should work 1,265 hours over 195 days a year, of which five days a year are out of the classroom for duties other than direct teaching.

Mr Gove wants this ‘central specification of teachers’ working days and hours’ removed from the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and for teachers to cover for absent colleagues more regularly.

He is also targeting a list of 21 tasks including photocopying and collecting money from pupils that teachers are currently prevented from carrying out under existing deals.

In his submission to the STRB, Mr Gove said that current provisions are ‘overly prescriptive’.

He pointed to evidence from the United States, that ‘extended school hours that provide opportunities for additional high-quality activities can have real benefits for children’s education’.

He said: ‘Children in the Far East are also often learning for many more hours than their peers in England, giving them a critical edge when they leave school.


‘We want schools in this country to learn from these examples, and some of them already do.

‘The David Young Community Academy in Leeds operates a seven-term year starting in June, with a maximum of six weeks at school followed by a maximum of four weeks’ holiday.

‘All ARK schools operate a longer school day: at secondary level, ARK schools are open from 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am-3pm on Fridays, providing 31 hours teaching per week.’ 

Mr Gove praised the Free School Norwich, pictured, which is open 51 weeks a year


Mr Gove also praised the Free School Norwich which is open 51 weeks a year and is ‘proving very popular with parents struggling with childcare costs’.

It provides an extended school service from 8.15am to 5.45pm during term time and throughout holidays, with one week off at Christmas.

Mr Gove said there was a ‘strong case for a reform of the current working time provisions’.

He insisted this was ‘not about making teachers work longer hours without some form of compensation’, pointing to ARK Schools’ contracts that enable them to operate between 8am and 5pm.

‘Teachers are expected to be available in the school and to cover most of their work within this longer school day, but no teacher would teach continuously throughout the day,’ Mr Gove said.

General Secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, said the move would be a mistake on teachers' conditions of service

General Secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, said the move would be a mistake on teachers’ conditions of service



‘The expectation is that in most cases the teaching load would be no greater than at other schools.’

However, the proposed overhaul will be fiercely opposed by teaching unions, which are already threatening further strike action in the New Year.

The National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT launched a rolling programme of industrial action across the country earlier this year over pensions, workload and the introduction of performance-related pay.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said yesterday: ‘We have a ballot, which means we can take strike action before the middle of February.

‘From the government’s moves on pay, we know that ministers are enthusiastic about deregulation.

‘I think it is a mistake on pay and it would be even more of a mistake on teachers’ conditions of service.’

In a recent interview, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools, said the six-week school holiday was ‘too long’.

The STRB is due to report back by January 14, after which the government will decide whether to accept its recommendations.

A DfE spokesman said: ‘We are giving all schools the freedom to set the length of the school day and term to meet the needs of their parents and pupils.

‘Many free schools and academies are already using these freedoms, for example the David Young Community Academy which runs a seven term year and Ark Schools which have lengthened the day in all their primary and secondary schools.

‘We have also cut red tape to make it easier for schools to open longer and offer on-site childcare and in April we asked the STRB to look at whether heads should have more flexibility over staff conditions, so it is easier to extend the school day, without it being centrally prescribed from Whitehall.’

Schools could open until 6pm for up to 51 weeks a year as Gove pushes for flexitime | Mail Online.

Education News
by Education News
Find us on Google+

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    British schooling is already failing for 40 weeks a year. With even longer days, terms, this failure will be extended, and cost the helpless taxpayer more wasted money!
    Gove should think about closing the DfE, LEAs, teacher training, and LEAVE THINGS ALONE, stop this endless change (by change-agents).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.