Tories plan Saturday school for poorer pupils

Saturday morning classes for children from disadvantaged homes will be set up if the Conservatives win the general election.

Michael Gove, the shadow Education Secretary, said he wanted schools to open for longer during the week and on Saturday mornings to help close the achievement gap between poorer pupils and those who are better off.

Speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) annual conference in Manchester yesterday, Mr Gove said the extra classes would help provide a similar cultural experience to that enjoyed by young people from middle-class homes brought up on a diet of books by their parents. "Children who come from homes where parents don't have the resources to provide additional stretch and cultural experiences could benefit from being in school for longer," he said. "I believe there is a case for school on Saturday morning to help stretch children."

However, delegates at the ATL conference laughed when he said that – if it was to succeed – the plan would have to have the enthusiastic support of staff.

Mr Gove said he was basing his idea on plans already developed in the United States by the Knowledge Is Power Programme, in which inner-city schools are run by teachers and stay open from 7.30am until 5pm during the week and also on Saturday mornings.

A handful of the Government's academies have introduced Saturday morning classes and longer hours, including Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, which has some of the best GCSE results in London. However, in the UK generally, Saturday morning classes are mostly the preserve of independent schools.

Mr Gove stressed it would be up to individual schools as to whether they introduced the plan.

He added that the plan would help overcome the fact that children from poorer homes were more likely to fall back in their learning as a result of the long summer holidays, as their parents cannot afford cultural and learning activities such as music tuition or extra coaching. "My hunch is that families would prefer there to be longer hours," he said. "Parents would love to have schools starting earlier and certainly love school to be going on later to fit in with their working lives."

However, Mr Gove's plan was greeted with scepticism by parents' leaders, who said the proposals were "unrealistic" at a time of public spending cuts. "It has incredible implications for schools in terms of heating, lighting and opening-up of school buildings," said Margaret Morrissey of the pressure group ParentsOutloud.

"I can understand why he's saying that, but I think the suggestion made by the Government of one-to-one teaching is a more preferable way of improving these children's standards," she continued. "Making this kind of suggestion when we're teetering on the edge of a recession is terribly unrealistic."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our exclusive client in St Albans Hertfords...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Primary Teachers

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Hertfordshir...

Tradewind Recruitment: Biology Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Teacher of Biology Required for April 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness