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Gove sources deny plan to lengthen school day

31/01/2014 Joanna
Sources close to education secretary Michael Gove have denied the government is planning blanket changes to cut school holidays and lengthen the school day.

Former Conservative advisor Paul Kirby attracted widespread media coverage by suggesting lengthening the school day so that it runs from nine o' clock until six pm, or 8.30 until 5.30. He also suggested reducing the length of school holidays as they result in less able children falling further behind their peers.

However, the BBC reports sources close to Mr Gove have denied there are any plans in place to impose such changes.

Schools will have more power to alter the lengths of days and terms as a result of changes to legislation currently underway. The Deregulation Bill will enable schools to alter the length of their holidays without consulting their local authority from September 2015.

The government is encouraging schools to have longer days and terms but the changes will not be imposed. Such an imposition would detract from their efforts to devolve power from central government.

Mr Kirby said proposals to lengthen the school day and cut holidays would help any politician win the next election by showing they are on the side of families.

They would ensure teachers work the same hours as "other hard-working professionals" and would benefit them by giving them more time to conduct lessons.

In addition, they would help to raise female employment levels, which have failed to increase at the rate they did in the 1970s and 1980s.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We are already giving all schools the freedom to set the length of the school day and term.

"Many academies and free schools offer extended opening hours, and we want more schools to take up these freedoms.

"We will obviously consider recommendations for further reforms."

The suggestions provoked a mixed reaction from teachers and headteachers. Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said there are limits to the amount of time in which children can do "productive academic work".

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801688790-ADNFCR
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