Debate: Michael Gove says school days should be longer and holidays shorter. Is he right?


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The Independent Online


What’s Going On?

Education Secretary Michel Gove has said that schools should have longer school days and shorter holidays, as the education system is being “handicapped” by a 19th century timetable, when we had an agricultural economy and the majority of mums stayed at home.

The reforms could allow state schools to choose to stay open until 4.30pm and introduce a four-week summer holiday from September next year.

Case For: The Global Race

The current system leaves English pupils at a disadvantage compared to children in East Asian nations who can benefit from extra tuition and support from teachers.

If school days were longer and holidays shorter, students’ academic performance would improve and it would make life easier for working parents who are used to having to tailor their working hours to the school timetable. Many of the best schools in Britain are already leading the way. Only the laziness of the teaching unions is holding us back.

Case Against: Quality not Quantity

Gove seems to be basing this policy on his personal opinion instead of the evidence. Teachers and pupils in Britain already spend longer hours in the classroom than most countries and also have some of the shortest summer holidays. In fact, the Finnish education system, which is consistently rated the best in the world, is characterised by short school days and lots of timetable flexibility. When will Gove start listening to the teachers and education experts who actually know what they're talking about?

Words by Hazel Morgan