Longer school days ‘turning teachers into national care provider’

A new pilot schem which extends school days by an extra hour has been criticised by a headteacher’s union.

The trial, focused on supporting disadvantaged pupils, includes around 1,800 learners in schools in Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan.

However, the Director of National Association of Head Teacher’s, Laura Doel, says schools are not a “national care provider” and this feels like the “final straw” in the ever-increasing demands on teachers.

“It is really disappointing to see the Welsh Government put forward a pilot for extending the school days on top of everything else that is going on in schools,” said Dole.

“I do not think we can underestimate the impact the pandemic continues to have, particularly on staff absence. We already know schools are suffering from a lack of teachers.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “This is a small-scale trial offering extra activities outside of the school day. Research shows that these can have a positive impact on attainment, confidence and well-being, particularly for disadvantaged learners.”

The Minister for education and Welsh language, Jeremy Miles, said: “The trial is a great opportunity to gather further evidence on how we use and structure time at school and how that might evolve in the future.

“We will be learning how these additional sessions might improve well-being, academic progression, and increased social and cultural capital.

“As we move forward, we will continue to support schools with even stronger community engagement so that we deliver on our mission to tackle the impact of poverty on educational attainment and achieve high standards for all.”