August 12, 2014

Only A Matter of Time? A framework for the most effective way to lengthen the school day in England

Today we have released our report analysing what the impact of a longer school day might be.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have recently called for more schools to run longer days – either to provide more opportunities for extra curricular activities, to help learning, or to provide a safe and secure place for childcare for working parents.

Our report, and accompanying polling from YouGov, looked at what a longer day might look like in practice. We concluded that:

  • between a third and a half of state schools already offer a longer day (and 70-80% of private schools).
  • but extending time isn’t automatically going to lead to better outcomes. In fact, international evidence shows no necessary correlation between length of the day, and performance on international league tables. This makes it really important to have a well designed and planned extended day, to maximise the chances of any potential benefits.
  • the greatest gains are likely to come in improving broad educational outcomes when thinking about ‘the whole child’ – including growing their cultural and social capital by offering a range of extra curricular activities
  • compulsory schemes are much less popular than voluntary schemes amongst parents and school staff. But voluntary schemes can struggle to run economically and there are also adverse  selection issues where those who may benefit the most – often the most deprived – would not attend. We suggest that it does so via an extended day premium, distributed on a per pupil basis, which schools can opt into receiving on the condition that they then run a longer day and which is mandatory for pupils within that school. Such a decision, with associated funding, would be analogous to opting in to Academy status.
  • running extended days at scale will cost government money – anywhere from £500m up to several billion – even if parents are charged for some services. One way to reduce costs would be for schools to offer services in clusters. But for this to work, pupils need safe and reliable transport between school sites – for example on a fleet of yellow buses


Download polling results for Teachers

Download polling results for Parents


Annaliese Briggs

Education Research Fellow, 2014-15

Jonathan Simons

Director of Policy and Advocacy, Varkey Foundation

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