Call for longer school days as part of £13.5bn catch-up plan
- Credit: PA
Longer school days should be introduced so pupils who have lost learning amid Covid can take part in social and academic activities, a report suggests.
A three-year funding package of £13.5 billion is required to reverse the disruption to pupils' education due to the pandemic, according to the Education Policy Institute (EPI) think tank.
Ministers should extend school hours, offer more incentives for teachers to work in "challenging areas", and allow some pupils to retake the year as part of its education recovery plans, the report said.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that a change to the summer holidays and longer school days are being looked at as part of the long-term recovery plan for pupils while tutoring schemes will be expanded.
But the think tank said ministers will need to put in place an ambitious, multi-year programme of support, including extending school hours to host sports clubs, social activities, games, pastoral support and academic programmes.
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David Laws, executive chairman of the EPI, said: "Over the last year, children have fallen badly behind in their learning, and those who are disadvantaged have suffered most acutely.
Children's commissioner Rachel de Souza, formerly chief executive of Inspiration Trust, made up of 14 academies in Norfolk and Suffolk, has said she was "absolutely determined" to make sure that children are prioritised so they do not become the "lost generation" as a result of the pandemic.
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She said: "I think it's really interesting. When I was running a trust myself, it was the children themselves who wanted to come back to school and wanted to come back to school early in the summer holiday so they didn't miss out."
She added that lots of schools already run "longer school days in ways that work for their communities".
Former local head Geoff Barton, who is now general secretary of the ASCL headteacher union, said extending school hours and opting for summer schemes "have a great deal of merit as long as they are properly resourced and do not increase the workload of leaders and teachers to an even more unsustainable level".
Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey, said its recovery curriculum plans would “focus on supporting children's physical and emotional well-being alongside filling any gaps in their learning due to the pandemic”.