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September 25, 2006

Teaching Hours

An experiment is being run at a school to see whether radically different teaching hours might improve results and lower truancy:

A school with one of the country's worst truancy records is to offer 24-hour teaching, allowing pupils to choose when - or indeed whether - they attend.

Classrooms at Bridgemary Community Sports College, Gosport, Hants, will be open from 7am until 10pm and the 1,000-pupil comprehensive will provide online teaching throughout the night.

A  fascinating idea for the headmistress is of course quite correct when she points this out:

The idea of a 24/7 timetable is that we look at what is best for the children and their educational needs."

"Some people simply learn better at different times than others, so why should children be forced into a situation where they have to learn between 9am and 3.30pm?

"We know we have a problem with attendance and we do not try to hide from it.

"Children need to be stimulated to want to come into school. The reason why most kids play truant is through boredom and these changes help alleviate that problem.

 

"It is turning what is normal upside down and bringing it the 21st century. The present term system was established to allow children to harvest crops in the summer.

But, say you and I, rational people that we are, why has no one tried such a thing before? After all, it's 50 or more years since people turned out en masse to gather the crops. Why have we been stuck in this old system? More importantly, why have there not at least been experiments? (Although we could note that many private schools, especially boarding schools, do indeed have very different hours. 9-1 and 4.45 to 7 from distant memory.) The answer is here:

Mr Johnson's decision to approve the scheme frees the school from the need to comply with the national agreement between the Government and the teacher unions on pay and conditions, regulations about school sessions and the national curriculum.

The new timetable, which begins next September, will be monitored for three years by a unit at the Department for Education and, if successful a report will be submitted to the Government on its implications for other schools.

Ah, you see, we have a national system, micromanaged from the centre. This isn't the way to encourage innovation at all. This is just another tale supporting the point that we need proper devolution: power being exercised at the most appropriate level. We can still have State funding of schooling, we'd just do rather better to have it by vouchers, parents and their children being able to choose which of the various experiments they prefer amongst the huge list that would spring up if schools were indeed allowed to manage such things themselves.

 

September 25, 2006 in Academia | Permalink

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Comments

We were 8.45 to one p.m., then games, then two more lessons until 6.10pm. This was followed by two hours of Prep. Saturday was half-day no-Prep, and it was Prep-only on Sunday. All told about a 60 hour week. Still, if I were paying £20,000 to have my little darling schooled, I'd want the bugger's nose held to the grindstone, too. It worked. You'd get some total plonk who'd be lucky to get a CSE in woodwork in the State system winding up with nine or ten pretty creditable O-levels.

Posted by: David Gillies | Sep 25, 2006 6:26:29 PM