A look at the length of England's school day

EPI: A look a the length of England’s school day

PAG Staff2024, Article, free schools, online resources, Policy, Schools

'An evidence review into the length of the school day'

Assessing England's School Day

In February 2024, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) published a pivotal report titled "An evidence review into the length of the school day," examining the potential impacts of extending school hours in England. This paper was prompted by the UK government's 2022 white paper "Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child," which set an expectation for all state-funded mainstream schools to deliver a minimum school week of 32.5 hours, equivalent to 6.5 hours per day, and follows a 2021 Department for Education (DfE) review suggesting that longer school hours could benefit pupils' outcomes, provided the additional time is used effectively.

The report explores several key areas, including the theoretical benefits of extending the school day, cross-country comparisons, changes in policy in other countries, effects varied by socio-economic status, subject, and education phase, mechanisms for effective delivery, and responses to the pandemic. The EPI aim to delve deeper into how extended school hours could impact academic outcomes, particularly focusing on test scores, in the next phase of their research.

Key highlights from the review suggest that extended school hours could offer more opportunities for learning, socialisation, and enrichment activities, potentially leading to improved academic outcomes and social skills. However, the effectiveness of such an extension depends significantly on how the additional time is utilised. The review also hints at exploring heterogenous effects, suggesting that the impact of extended school hours might vary across different groups of students, subjects, and phases of education.

The report underscores the importance of further research to understand the optimal use of additional school time and its relationship with pupil outcomes, indicating a cautious approach towards policy implementation. The findings contribute to an ongoing debate on education policy and the pursuit of strategies aimed at enhancing student achievement and well-being.

For detailed insights and further reading, the full report can be accessed through the Education Policy Institute's website.