The Mail Online reports : “State schools should extend their days to help poor pupils keep up with privately educated peers, according to the Department for Education.
- Longer hours would help pupils keep up with privately educated, officials say
- Report said disadvantaged children would benefit most from policy
- Suggests using extra time for extra-curricular activities like debating
Officials said schools should consider opening for up to five hours longer to give children access to more teaching and extra-curricular activities.
In some cases, this could bring the school day up to 12 hours – from 7am to 7pm – which is longer than the average working day.
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Pupils from poorer backgrounds could use the extra time to take part in ‘character building’ activities such as debating, cadet forces and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
In a report published yesterday, the DfE said disadvantaged youngsters would benefit most from the policy, as it would give them more time to work in a ‘calm and supportive environment’.
It said: ‘Longer days can mean schools have more time to work with pupils who need additional help, and can open up opportunities for pupils to access purposeful, character building activities.
‘Some schools, including some in disadvantaged areas, are already recognising the benefits of longer days and reorganising their timetables to ensure a good balance of teaching, extra-curricular activities and supervised self-directed work.
‘Those schools report that just having a dedicated time of the school day to complete work in a calm and supportive environment can make a big difference.’
The DfE said the decision to extend hours would be up to schools, and it would not enforce a compulsory longer day.
Its report was a response to research by the Commons’ education select committee, which found many working-class white pupils were falling behind at school.
A DfE spokesman said: ‘Our plan for education involves making sure all children have equal access to opportunities to develop their skills and confidence.’ ”