Session 93 – Should the timings of terms & the ‘opening hours’ of the school day be changed?

Session Summary

The discussion began with ideas of alterative to the current pattern of three terms with two half terms sessions of around 6-7 weeks that is currently the norm in the state sector in much of the UK. Many people suggested that moving a few weeks from the long summer to the half terms may avoid that perception or fact that pupils going backwards after the summer hols. The variety of suggestions and ideas was huge and arguments fore and against showed that this is an important issue for educators. Because of this I suggest that browsing the archive below is the best thing to do. However, there were a number of participates who was on the fence on this topic and could see merits in different systems and the status quo.


There were numerous examples cited from other countries around the world, including from tweeps who are or have taught overseas. Much was made about the fact that in some countries the summer holiday was much longer than in the UK.


The discussion moved to the disparity between term times for UK state schools and those in the private sector. Many tweeps questioned whether longer holidays were necessary and whether these were simply a legacy from a bygone age where most privately educated students were boarders. But it should be noted in the interest of balance that there didn’t seem to be any teachers from the private system taking part in that discussion.


Attention turned to what Academies and Free Schools do. While these schools are able to change their term times much easier than other schools, it was mentioned by many participates that most have chosen to keep in line with the status quo for the most part.


The question was posed whether Primary Schools and Secondary Schools would benefit from a different structure. Most people decided that there may by merits for this for the way the students study, but the extra burden on families if there were different systems would vastly out-weigh any benefits. Most felt that what ever system was adopted, it should be the same for all age groups.


The discussion moved away from term times to possible changes to the school hours. It was noted that in many countries the school day begins much earlier and ends much later. While true, others questioned that more teaching is better teaching. Some participated briefly discussed whether there was an optimal number of hours that students should be in school for. Many others pointed out that learning doesn’t just happen at school and that there is life outside the classroom (teachers may be vaguely aware of this). It is interested to note that there seems to be a lot more flexibility in the school day within other countries. There was a fascinating discussion from some American colleagues who had school beginning from 7am to almost 11am. But most seemed that most began between 8.30am and 9am. The role of breakfast clubs was also discussed.


The idea was suggested that there could be 24 hour schools with teachers and students working in shifts and being more flexible in the time study actually happens. Some chatters said that they are more productive at alternative times of the day and it could help with extra places at schools for little extra infrastructure, but most said they couldn’t see it happening.


The discuss moved on to whether on demand virtual learning would ever replace learning in schools. There was a resounding ‘no’, but many thought that more distance and on demand learning would compliment school life and study in the future.


Whatever the future holds for terms, the school day and school as an entity and physical place, we can be sure that it will not suit everyone. But as long as the coffee keeps on coming the teaching profession will continue and educators and student will continue to collaborate to move things forward.


@NuttyA10: Maybe we need to start looking at fact that learning doesn’t just happen in school time. Are we teaching skills 4 life? #ukedchat


@thosethatcan: @NuttyA10 @Saltcreature > there are SO many community leaders who would jump at chance to run sessions in fully equipped schools! #ukedchat


@Saltcreature: @super_sixfive The school should be open longer for other stuff not necessarily the teachers teaching. #ukedchat

@JWEducation: #ukedchat 4 day weeks and shorter holiday = less tired children+staff. No more long holidays for parents just childcare every Fri – discuss!

@urban_teacher: @BenRogersOVA Productivity is the key! Long hours does not ensure that #ukedchat


@ICTwitz: The whole school day routine / school term issue needs a complete re-think, with the pupils at the heart of the debate #ukedchat

Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic) is a Year 5/6 Primary School teacher at Mersea Island School, near Colchester in Essex. His award winning wiki page provides a huge selection of free web resources for every area of the Primary and Secondary curriculum.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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