Pupils could have longer school days to make up for lost time in lockdown - here’s how it would work

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 3:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 3:16 pm
Children could be faced with longer school days (Photo: Shutterstock)

Children across England could be faced with longer school days in an effort to make up the time lost during lockdown.

Ministers are expected to publish a plan on Thursday 18 June which includes details of funding for longer school days.

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‘Bolt-on’ sessions

Children could be asked to take part in something called “bolt-on” sessions, which could see children coming into school earlier, or staying later at the end of the day.

Thousands of private tutors may also be hired and used to provide extra lessons for pupils of all ages, in person and remotely, with pupils from disadvantaged areas expected to receive first use of them.

A Whitehall source is reported to have said: “The best place for children to learn is in a school environment, so it makes sense to try and do catch up work at school rather than trying to do it through home learning.

“There has rightly been a lot of focus on the impact on disadvantaged children but all children have missed out on their education so we need a catch up programme that is open to everyone.”

Ministers have reportedly ruled out extending the length of the school day via legislation, but teachers could be asked to run catch-up lessons.

‘Massive catch-up operation’

Boris Johnson has made promises of a “massive catch up operation” for children in England who have missed out on months of schooling.

On Wednesday 10 June, the Prime Minister said: “We’ll be doing a huge amount of catch up for pupils over the summer months.”

The Guardian reported that the catch up scheme is likely to include things such as vouchers for online tutoring through existing organisations and the use of volunteers enrolled in programmes offering classes and activities over the summer, and following months.

Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “It is vital that children do not fall further behind in their development.

“With the summer holidays rapidly approaching, we are calling on the government to urgently start a conversation with local authorities and schools to provide clarity on what exactly it is proposing to help children to catch up on any schoolwork they may have missed out on during lockdown.”

When will children go back to school?

Children in early years, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 began to return to classrooms on 1 June.

Government guidance published on 15 June also allowed schools to invite back additional children (in previously listed year groups) if they feel they are ready to do so and within the existing guidance.

From Monday 15 June, secondary schools were able to welcome back pupils in Year 10 and Year 12, and colleges welcomed back 16-19 students, with settings using a range of approaches to allow a quarter of students in at any one time.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I want to make sure as many pupils as possible can get back into the classroom and be reunited with their friends and teachers before the summer, to support their wellbeing and education.”