Parents divided over plans for schools to stay open until 5pm to help kids catch up

26 October 2021, 10:34

Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza has urged the government to facilitate longer school days
Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza has urged the government to facilitate longer school days. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

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Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza has said schools should remain open to help children catch up with their studies.

Parents have been left divided over recent calls for schools to stay open until 5pm to help children catch up.

Earlier this week, Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to find an extra £1.9billion a year to pay for longer days.

She suggested all schools should introduce after-class activities such as catch-up lessons, sports and drama after coronavirus forced classrooms to close for months.

Dame Rachel also said no schools should send kids home after lunch, telling a radio station: "I want those schools to open, the children to actually do the activities they need.”

Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to find an extra £1.9billion a year to pay for longer days
Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to find an extra £1.9billion a year to pay for longer days. Picture: Alamy

But this idea has completely divided parents, with many people saying this will lead to children being exhausted.

One woman wrote on Twitter: “I don’t agree with the proposed extended school hours of up till 5pm and additional Saturday mornings.

“Let kids be kids and spend time with family and socialising outside of school. It’s bad enough adulting involves being stuck at work for 9 hrs a day."

She added: “And what about teachers? When would they get any family time etc? What about parents who would have to then give up their Saturdays to be available for the school run? What about kids after school.

“What about parents with younger children at nursery/primary needing to collect one child, feed, bathe etc then drag the poor younger kid back out to get the other one when they should be getting them ready for bed?”

Would you be open to children studying for longer every day?
Would you be open to children studying for longer every day? Picture: Alamy

Mum-of-two Vicki, 39, also told The Sun that her young children would be extremely hungry by the time they got home.

She said: “Obviously I think it's ridiculous, they've lost out on so much.

"Their social development, and plans and wanting to go out - my son is 12 now and in year eight.

"At the start of lockdown he was in his very last year of primary school so he never really got the start of that independence, going out with his friends and all of that."

The Association of School and College Leaders also want £5.8billion dedicated from the government to help kids catch up.

While no official statement has been made, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to have ruled out extra funding on top of the £3billion already committed to help pupils to catch up.

Rishi Sunak has reportedly ruled out longer school days
Rishi Sunak has reportedly ruled out longer school days. Picture: Alamy

According to The Times, he has said the evidence is not strong enough to back a plan to extend the school day.

However, two primary schools have recently taken things into their own hands and extended their days by an extra hour.

Hallsville and Scott Wilkie primary schools, in Canning Town and Custom House have added an extra half hour at the beginning and at the end of each weekday.

Executive headteacher of both schools, Keri Edge, said she took action after some pupils have fallen behind during lockdowns.

She said: “Without the extra support our children may not have all the necessary skills that they need to be secondary ready.

“We have had tremendous support from our parents.

“They understand that this extra hour will make the difference later in their education.”