Ministers go to war with teachers’ unions over extra class time plans for children

MINISTERS waged war with teachers’ unions last night over schools’ teaching time in a bid to raise standards.

School leaders must offer a school week of at least 32.5 hours a week by September next year as part of new plans to allow children to reach their potential.

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Ministers waged war with teachers’ unions last night over schools’ teaching time in a bid to raise standardsCredit: Getty

Education chiefs insist that ‘no child will be left behind’ as currently a child who receives twenty minutes less of education a day will lose around two weeks of schooling a year.

But Paul Whiteman, boss of head teachers’ union NAHT, said last night: ‘We hope that in the year before these proposals are implemented there can be a review of the evidence at the support for this plan.

“Just adding five or ten minutes to a day probably won’t bring much, if any, benefit.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU Teachers Union, said: “The vast majority of school days are this long or slightly longer or shorter.

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“We are looking for much more sophisticated changes.”

“Where is the multifaceted recovery plan? What should happen during the extra 10-15 minutes that some students will now spend in school? »

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are unconvinced of the benefits of introducing a minimum expectation over the length of the 32.5 hour school week.”

Figures show that 75% of schools had days that averaged between six hours 15 minutes and six hours 35 minutes.

Tory MP Tom Hunt, who sits on the education select committee, said last night: ‘Unfortunately it’s not surprising to see positions from teachers’ unions on this.

“Youth education has been disrupted during the pandemic and unions must prioritize the importance of young people learning in the classroom.

“You have to wonder if this is pre-education.”

Tory MP Jonathan Gullis, a former teacher and union representative, said last night: ‘There is no substitute for school.

“Ensuring there is a minimum amount of time in school each week helps level the playing field and allows students to catch up on learning lost due to the pandemic.

‘Why would anyone object to this begging belief, but having seen how unions like the Not Education Union have fared for the past two years, we shouldn’t be surprised as they are more interested in keeping students out of the classroom rather than inside.

“I just hope that in the future we go further by extending the school day so that all students get the best education they deserve.”

Whitehall insiders said the move was made to ensure all pupils get the same amount of class time – and the full curriculum – wherever they live.

‘AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL’

The desire to keep children in the classroom longer after the pandemic is also seen as a key factor behind plans to be released by the government this week.

The rallying cry was issued to build on the government’s upgrading plans which aim to see 90 per cent of pupils reach expected levels in reading, writing and maths by 2030.

Details of the teaching week, which will be the equivalent of 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Monday to Friday, will be published in the Schools White Paper to be published on Monday.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Every child deserves the support of great teachers, who in turn deserve the support of a caring and inclusive school, whether they live in Doncaster or Dartmouth, whether they plan to study at T or A levels, regardless of their Context.

“During my tenure as Secretary of Education, my primary focus has been to create opportunity for all, with strong schools and great teachers for every child.”

But Labor hit back last night saying that ‘for nearly 8 in 10 schools’ there will be no ‘big idea’ from the government to improve school life.

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Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: ‘After two years of pandemic chaos and six years since the government’s last school strategy, this plan will leave parents, teachers and pupils wondering where the ambition is for the future of children.

The long-awaited journal on special educational needs and disability (Send) will be published on Tuesday.

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