Heads say no to longer school day in union poll
School leaders do not favour extending the school day to help children catch up on lost learning. That’s among the findings of a new poll from the NAHT union, in which leaders also said they favour one to one and small group tutoring for pupils – but not through the government’s National Tutoring Programme.
The snap poll of NAHT members received 728 responses in England, and revealed that the top three areas on which school leaders think the government should be focusing additional funding for education recovery are: One to one/small group tutoring run by schools themselves (chosen by 70 per cent), better support for pupil mental health and wellbeing (63 per cent) and increased pupil premium allocations (42 per cent).
However the priorities chosen by the fewest respondents were the national tutoring programme (3 per cent in favour) and extending the school day for additional learning (2 per cent). Extending the school day had been a measure that was favoured by Sir Kevan Collins, the government’s former education recovery commissioner, who resigned earlier this month over levels of funding for education catch-up which he described as falling ‘far short’ of what was required.
Commenting on the poll results, NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: ‘These results reflect what we have been hearing from our members directly – that rather than dictating how education recovery happens, the government needs to give schools the flexible funding and resources to get on with the job in the way they know works best. The National Tutoring Programme is a great idea in principle and could have a really positive impact, but the current bureaucracy surrounding it, and the difficulties schools are facing accessing tutors means that it is starting to feel like yet another hoop to jump through and a pressure rather than a help. It also doesn’t help that schools still don’t even know what their allocations will be for next year, making planning incredibly difficult. As our members show with their priorities in this survey, 1:1 and small group tutoring is a measure that education professionals know works. They just need the flexibility – and funding and resources – to organise it themselves.’
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