A primary school is considering closing to pupils on Friday afternoons to help prevent teacher “burnout”.
Moving to a four-and-a-half day week would give staff more time to develop an “exciting curriculum” for pupils, according to Ashby Fields primary school in Daventry, Northamptonshire. It is running a consultation with parents on the timetable change, which would start in September if agreed.
A document published on the Northamptonshire school’s website said it was proposing to send children home at 1.15pm on a Friday afternoon.
Pupils would still get more than the number of hours of classroom time per week recommended by the government, it said, and “wraparound care” would be offered to parents unable to collect their children under the new timetable.
It said that recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers was a national problem that had an impact on children’s education, wellbeing and confidence.
The “huge workload” faced by teachers meant they worked 60 hours a week on average, it added, and many – despite their love of teaching – could not manage to keep a work-life balance, with some of them leaving the profession.
“We can offer our teachers more time out of the classroom to be able to collaborate with their peers and develop the exciting curriculum we want our children to receive, without ‘burning out’,” the school said.
Parents had mixed reactions when the plan was discussed at a public meeting earlier this week, the BBC reported. A consultation on the school’s proposal runs until 4 May.
The Department for Education said: “The education secretary has been clear that his priority is to work with teachers and make sure teaching remains the attractive and rewarding profession that it is.
“We recognise the pressures that teachers can face, particularly regarding workload, and we are working with the profession, unions and Ofsted to strip away work that does not add value and keeps staff from doing what really matters.
“We have also announced that there will be no changes to the curriculum or new tests for primary schools for the remainder of this parliament and across the country we know academies and free schools are using their freedoms, including the ability to set their curriculum and tailor their working day, to meet the needs of staff, students and parents.”