Great Britain

Longer school day could help pupils catch up after Covid, Gavin Williamson suggests

A longer school day could be introduced to help children ‘catch up’ after lockdown, education secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested.

The proposal is one of a number being examined as schools prepare to open their doors tomorrow for the first time since January.

Other options include a five-term school year, an idea the education secretary floated earlier this week.

The changes would be designed to help pupils to catch up on what they missed during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the head of the government’s schools watchdog appeared to pour cold water on the ideas, suggesting they had not worked in the past.

Mr Williamson told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “There is a whole range of different proposals that we are looking at, whether it is a five-term year, whether it is lengthening the school day.

“But also measures such as enhancing the support we give to teachers, supporting them in their professional development, making sure they can be the very best of themselves.”

Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s education recovery commissioner, would consider what measures to introduce over the next 18 months, he said.

But Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman told the same programme the plans could backfire.

She suggested that experiments along similar lines in the past had not persisted.

“There’s no point adding time here or moving time there if you don’t get a groundswell of support,” she added.

“If children simply don’t turn up for extra time or summer schools, for example, you could end up putting a lot of effort into something that doesn’t achieve the objective.

“My concern is to make sure that we go with the grain of what parents will embrace to make sure that all children get the very most out of their education.”

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