Children could stay at school until 8pm, if Michael Gove gets his way. In an unpopular raft of suggestions, the Education Secretary has proposed that academies and new free schools could arrange their own hours and term dates.
Free schools will be allowed to open for up to 51 weeks of the year and six days a week, if their boards choose. They may also increase the school hours to begin at 8am and end as late as 8pm. Dinner could be served to any pupils staying late and working parents wouldn’t have to cut short their day to pick up their children.
Michael Gove used the Norwich Free School as an example of the new freedoms schools can expect. This school’s premises will be open for six days each week, 51 weeks of the year from this September. It will also be using a six-term structure with a four-week summer break, far shorter than the current long summers families are used to.
But the proposals have come under heavy criticism from both teachers and parents.
“For schools to be open six days a week, 51 weeks of the year, is not what we need,” said Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union Teachers (NUT).
“Children and young people are after all entitled to a family life and it is essential that they have time to relax and recharge their batteries after a long and often intensive week at school,” she continued.
“This idea, although not new, is ridiculous,” Christine added.