Anger at 45-hour school plan

Angry parents whose children are facing a 45-hour school week have organised a public meeting to oppose the plan.

Education secretary Michael Gove has already hailed the plans for Greenacre Primary School, in Great Yarmouth, as 'brilliant'.

He added that 'the longer students spend in school the better they will do'.

But parents fear that the plans, designed to improve a school which had gone through eight headteachers in eight years, will impact on family life and leave their children too tired to concentrate.

Changes to the timetable will come into force after the school becomes an academy in September, with year-five and -six children staying until 6pm each day as part of an enrichment programme.

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This would include horse-riding and dancing, and multi-millionaire sponsor Theodore Agnew says it will offer children opportunities that their parents cannot afford.

But a petition against the new timetable has gathered more than 130 signatures, and a public meeting will be held on Friday.

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Lynne Lear, who is helping to organise the meeting, wrote: 'Our children are being forced out of school due to the fact we do not agree to our children being kept in school until 6pm.

'Our argument is very simple – we want this to be optional. We, the parents, hope people will attend the meeting to help back us and make these people aware that these are our children and we have a right to a say in their schooling.'

Under the new regime, the school day for pupils aged nine to 11 would end at 6pm. At the end of standard lessons at 3.30pm, those youngsters would be given a school-supplied snack and drink.

Then from 3.45pm to 5pm they would be offered a high-quality, free programme of extra-curricular activities, ranging from sport and dancing to IT and horse-riding; from 5pm to 6pm they would be doing homework and reading in school, freeing them from the need to do it at home.

After October half-term, the plan is for youngsters in years three and four to join in the extra-curricular programme.

Nobody at the school was available to comment on the open meeting yesterday, but headteacher Bill Holledge has previously said that he was happy to meet parents on an individual basis to discuss their concerns.

And Iain MacDonald, chairman of the governors, told the EDP last month: 'They're not going down the mines or up the chimneys – these will be rich, extra-curricular activities.'

The open meeting at Great Yarmouth Town Hall starts at 6pm on Friday.

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