Ministers ‘planning longer school days’ to catch up on lost learning during Covid crisis

1 June 2021, 13:28 | Updated: 2 June 2021, 00:16

A £15bn rescue package could be put into education
A £15bn rescue package could be put into education, including longer school days. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

The school day could be extended by half an hour to help children catch up on education they missed due to the pandemic, according to a leaked report.

A £15bn Covid rescue package could be put into education, calling for all pupils to receive an extra 100 hours of schooling a year from 2022.

It is likely that schools will be able to decide independently how they accommodate the extra hours.

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There are also plans to implement extra tutoring for five million pupils and additional training for half a million teachers.

There are also suggestions that an extra year of sixth form could be on the cards if teenagers are unable to complete their A level courses in time.

Whilst the measures will come at enormous financial cost, the report warns that doing nothing to help children catch up will be worse for the economy in the long run, and that additional schooling hours will help to minimise this.

However, research by Cambridge University published last week found that extending the school day may only have give “marginal gains” to pupils who missed out on learning.

A possible reason why extra instruction time may be relatively ineffective is that it would increase the burden on both teachers and pupils, preventing them from being at their best, according to the research.

Vaughan Connolly, a doctoral researcher at Cambridge's Faculty of Education, said: "Simply keeping all students in school for longer, in order to do more maths or more English, probably won't improve results much; nor is it likely to narrow the attainment gap for those who have missed out the most.

"This evidence suggests that re-evaluating how time is used in schools - for example, by trimming subject time and replacing it with sessions focusing on 'learning to learn' skills - could make a bigger difference.

"Quality is going to matter much more than quantity in the long run."