Education chief Michael Gove praises Great Yarmouth school’s 45 hour week
EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove says plans to make Great Yarmouth youngsters spend 45 hours at school each week are 'brilliant'.
Parents have reacted angrily to Greenacre Primary School's academy plans, which will see Year 5 and 6 pupils kept at school until 6pm each day under a new timetable.
A petition against the move has been signed by more than 130 parents, with criticism including that children will be so tired they are unable to concentrate.
But Mr Gove has welcomed the plans, made possible by millionaire sponsor Theodore Agnew.
Speaking on a recent visit to Norwich, Mr Gove told the Mercury: 'I think it's a brilliant idea. The longer students spend in school the better they will do.
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'It also helps parents, actually, making it easier for them to get promoted at work or move jobs in the town and I think it's absolutely fantastic that the new headteacher there wants to spend time with the students and help them to do better.'
Headteacher Bill Holledge, 33, is leading the troubled school though a period of change - after going through eight heads in just eight years.
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Mr Gove called the school 'one of the weakest primary schools in an area of real deprivation' and added it is 'fantastic' that it is becoming an academy.
Sponsor Theodore Agnew says the move will offer children a rounded education their parents could not otherwise afford, and headteacher Mr Holledge says consultation about the plans was open - with discussion at a coffee morning and information on the school website.
But builder Tony Blencowe - whose son Jack, six, is a pupil at the school - says this is not the case.
'I find it hard to believe that a consultation can take place at a coffee morning,' he said.
He added he tried to view information online, but the school website was not working until the last day of the consultation period.
Mr Agnew last week said parents 'do not have the means' to offer this level of education to their children, but Mr Blencowe says this is patronising.
He says his family used to live in a 100-year-old cottage in Banham, but opted to move to the Barrack Estate.
'I find these comments very insulting when it was my choice to buy our house here,' said Mr Blencowe. 'Maybe I'm not a multi-millionaire, but our child does after school activities four nights a week plus Saturday mornings, and so do many other children.
'Maybe Mr Agnew should think before he judges people as there are many good working class people who live in this area.'
He added he feels his son 'is being forced out of the school' because he does not want to do dance and horse riding - offered under plans - and wants to carry on with his martial arts and swimming instead.
'We will be fighting this all the way, and will be arranging an open meeting soon,' he vowed.