Schools under strain teach out of hours

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The Independent Online

Pressure to raise standards is forcing schools to offer increasing amounts of teaching outside normal school hours, according to a government-commissioned survey published yesterday.

Pressure to raise standards is forcing schools to offer increasing amounts of teaching outside normal school hours, according to a government-commissioned survey published yesterday.

Secondary school pupils are spending an average of three hours a week on academic and extracurricular out-of-school activities, according to the survey by Mori. Thirty-five per cent of children regularly join school-related additional activities, making them as popular as sport, according to the poll.

Ministers said the survey showed opportunities for pupils were increasing. But, although heads welcomed increases in sport and arts clubs, 35 per cent of secondary schools warned that the rise of the after-school culture was a symptom of increasing pressure to raise academic standards. Seventy per cent of the 204 schools surveyed had increased out-of-school clubs and lessons in the past two years.

Middle-class parents were more likely to send their children to extracurricular activities than their working-class counterparts - 81 per cent of parents in the top three social groups compared with 64 per cent in social classes C2, D and E.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, praised the extension of non-academic clubs, but warned that pressure on secondary schools meant they were "often formalising and extending opportunities to help young people through government targets".

Jacqui Smith, a Schools minister, said: "Out-of-school hours learning is not just about [sport and art], it can have a direct impact on pupils' everyday curriculum work."

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