Teachers don’t believe the school day should be extended

An overwhelming majority of teachers do not believe extending the school day or changing term lengths is vital for helping children catch up with missed learning due to the pandemic, a survey suggests.

Around two in three teachers (68%) believe pupils should be supported through sport and exercise and increased creative and practical learning (66%), the poll found.

It comes after the Secretary for Education, Gavin Williamson, confirmed that changes to the summer holidays and longer school days had not been ruled out of the recovery plan which aims to help pupils make up for time missed in the classroom.

However, the survey from the National Education Union indicates that more than four in five teachers believe education providers should be given the flexibility to decide what is important for their students learning and wellbeing.

The poll found that only 2% of teachers, school leaders and support staff believe lengthening the school days or term times is an important way of supporting pupils who have missed in-person learning as a result of school closures throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government has announced £1.7 billion of “catch up” funding for schools in England, as well as summer schools for pupils in greatest need of support.

However, 68% of the 10,700 NEU members surveyed believe the Downing Street should focus on reducing levels of child poverty to help support the recovery of those children most impacted by the pandemic.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Learning has continued throughout lockdown, although precious little appears to have occurred at the Department for Education.

“The message is clear: we need to steer a course beyond Covid which rights the historic faults of the education system in this country and the distorted priorities of those who run it.

“If the Government is serious about building back better, then they should take on board these views.

“Education professionals have been on the frontline, either virtual or physical, throughout the last 12 months and it is their insights on what has worked best that should be taken forward.”