More UK schools reduce school week to save money and boost productivity

Last week, we reported on the growing trend of US schools trimming the school week down to four days a week. A similar trend seems to hitting the UK, with more schools choosing to reduce the school week to four and a half days. On Fridays, pupils from these schools will head home at lunchtime. In Birmingham, 20 schools have already shortened the school week, due to funding shortages. According to the BBC, “Northfield, the catchment area for Bellfield Junior School, is in a deprived part of Birmingham. “Nearly 60% of the 286 pupils at the school are classed as being disadvantaged, receiving free school meals and “pupil premium” – a grant given by the government to a school for each disadvantaged child it educates. Over a third are also on the vulnerable register, while 27% have special educational needs and disabilities.” Head teacher Nigel Atwood, who spearheaded the initiative, said that the school receives £1.3m from the local authority for its annual budget, but around 76 percent to 78 percent of that sum is taken by  staffing costs and wages, leaving around £300,000 for everything else. Deputy Claire du Toit was initially “horrified” when she heard about Atwood’s suggestion, as she wasn’t sure how it would be beneficial to allow children to lose half a day of learning. But they are seeing some positive effects. The new shortened school week means pupils only lose 50 minutes of teaching time and still receive a total of 25 hours a week – 90 minutes more than the recommended minimum set by the Department of Education.

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