The proposal has been put forward by former Downing Street advisor Paul Kirby, who says that the policy could win the next General Election.
In his personal blog, Mr Kirby outlines the manifesto promise: “From September 2016, all state-funded schools will, by law, provide 45 hours of education per week for 45 weeks of the year.”
It would mean schools opening for students from 9am to 6pm with only seven weeks’ holiday across the year. Mr Kirby argues that this would allow parents to work full-time without the need for additional childcare during school holidays or after-school. He said: “It’s disruptive enough to be a real game-changer in education, in employment and the economy more generally.”
The government is currently debating changes in the Deregulation Bill which would give schools the ability to change their school holiday periods from September 2015 without having to seek local authority permission.
Speaking on Monday (February 3), Mr Gove said he would like to see schools being able to stay open longer with nine or 10-hour days to allow more time for homework clubs or after-school activities. However, as SecEd went to press, government sources were briefing the media that there would be no blanket policy on the issue.
Teachers this week argued that there is little evidence that extending the school day raises achievement or examination results.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Surely even this government has more sense than to lock children into formal schooling for nine-hours-a-day. Most primary children and many older children are exhausted by the end of the current school day, and exhausted by the end of a school term.
“For children to learn effectively they need regular breaks to give them time to process what they have learned. There is no evidence that extending the school day would raise exam results or help children achieve more at school – children will just end up too tired to work.”
Dr Bousted also questioned where the government would find the money to pay for the extra school staff required for such a move.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said education should not be viewed as a production line and that children “deserve a childhood”.
She added: “For many children, spending such a long period in school will be counterproductive. Primary school pupils in particular will find it very difficult to concentrate or even stay awake for such long periods.”
Ms Blower pointed to countries like Finland where teaching hours are shorter than England, and to the private sector in the UK where longer holidays are the norm.
She added: “Teachers already work some of the longest hours of any profession with many putting in 50 to 60 hours a week. There needs to be a balance to ensure that both teachers and pupils have time to recharge their batteries.”
Read Mr Kirby’s blog at http://paulkirby.net/2014/01/26/is-this-the-perfect-2015-election-promise/