Photo gallery: Headmaster fails to attend heated meeting over 45-hour school week

Dozens of parents attended a public meeting last night where concerns were aired over a planned 45-hour primary school week.

Greenacre Primary School, in Great Yarmouth, is planning to introduce the radical timetable when it becomes an academy in September, with homework time and extracurricular activities built into the longer school day.

But concerned parents believe keeping year five and six children in school until 6pm each night will tire them out and harm family time, and that the long day should be optional.

A public meeting was held at Yarmouth Town Hall last night, with more than 60 parents hoping to discuss their worries with headmaster Bill Holledge and millionaire sponsor Theodore Agnew.

But neither turned up, and Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis also declined an invitation.

The trio said they had prior commitments, with Mr Lewis sending an aide who read a statement on his behalf and Mr Holledge circulating a document answering some frequently asked questions about the plans.

Mother-of-one Valli Catchpole said: 'I'm disappointed the headmaster was not here to voice his own opinions.'

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Kerry Robinson Payne, Nelson ward councillor and a former Greenacre pupil herself, added that parents have told of their frustration at the lack of direct communication.

She said. 'Bits of paper with things written on aren't the same as being present, and I think lots of frustration would have been alleviated if they were here.'

Rex Parkinson Hare, county councillor for Yarmouth Nelson and Southtown, told the meeting: 'The governing body has made a mess of this as they did not call a public meeting.'

He assured the assembled parents they could legally take their children out of school at 3.30pm even when the school day runs to 6pm.

A statement from Mr Holledge confirms this, but states parents must then sign a form acknowledging that they are withdrawing their child from the 'additional opportunities which the school is offering' and that they appreciate that their child 'will not benefit from the full broad and balanced curriculum that the school is committed to providing.'

After opting out youngsters cannot opt back in until after the October half term, which angered parents.

Councillors are seeking a meeting with Mr Holledge and Mr Agnew to put across points made at last night's meeting.

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