Gavin Williamson slams schools for closing 'far too early'

Gavin Williamson slams schools which send pupils home at 2.45pm for closing ‘far too early’ as he hints at crackdown amid ongoing review of extending the day to help with post-Covid catch up

  • Gavin Williamson said some secondary schools ‘currently close far too early’ 
  • Education Secretary ‘very concerned’ at schools closing at 2.45pm or 3pm 
  • He said ‘I don’t want to see that continue’ as he hinted at a potential crackdown
  • Ministers continue to consider a longer school day to help post-Covid catch up 

Gavin Williamson today slammed secondary schools for closing ‘far too early’ as he hinted at a crackdown.

The Education Secretary said he is ‘very concerned’ at some schools which send pupils home as early as 2.45pm or 3pm. 

Mr Williamson told MPs ‘I don’t want to see that continue’ as he appeared to pave the way for Government action on the issue and said ‘I would like to see secondary schools going a bit further’. 

His comments came as ministers continue to consider rolling out a longer school day across the country to help pupils catch up on learning after the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Education Secretary said he is ‘very concerned’ at some schools which send pupils home as early as 2.45pm or 3pm

Mr Williamson told MPs ‘I don’t want to see that continue’ as he appeared to pave the way for Government action on the issue

The schools catch up tsar, Sir Kevan Collins, quit earlier this month with a stinging condemnation of the Government’s £1.4billion education recovery fund which he said ‘falls far short of what is needed’. 

One of his recommendations was that schools should be given extra funding to pay for a flexible extension to school time, the equivalent to 30 minutes extra every day, as part of a long-term shake-up. The Government is still considering the proposal.  

Mr Williamson was asked during an appearance in front of the Education Select Committee this morning to give his view on a longer school day. 

He replied: ‘I think there are some schools that currently close far too early.

‘I think that actually I want to see, I think lots of schools do it brilliantly and we musn’t forget this because actually the examples we pick on are schools that are doing exactly what we want to actually see where you have got the enrichment, the extra academic time, you have children with the opportunity to play at lunchtime, being with their friends, do other activities.

‘So we have got so many schools doing it, but we do have, sadly, a number of schools that are finishing too early in my view and I don’t want to see that continue.’

MPs asked Mr Williamson how many schools currently remain open beyond 3.30pm. 

He replied: ‘Historically there has been very little, there has been very little information actually sort of published on the actual sort of school day.

‘As I am sure you are aware, it has not been actually as part of something that has been looked at as part of an accountability measure by Ofsted.

‘So, we have been doing over the last six months more and more work looking at this and we are continuing to do a lot more evidence, build up a lot more evidence of the real benefits of the long school day.

‘But I think there is real benefits of actually a school, I feel very concerned when I see secondary schools closing at 2.45pm, sometimes even earlier, sometimes at 3 o’clock. I would like to see secondary schools going a bit further.’

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