4-Day school week: Will it happen?

4-day school week would mean Friday kicks off the ‘school weekend’...

School children with back to camera with their hands up in class
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future)

 

The idea of a 4-day school week has been circulated and is due to be debated in parliament today, June 27th. 

The world is on its head, last week's conversation was around fines for taking children out of school, this week it’s all about just 4-days in school.

Parenting expert Kirsty Ketley (opens in new tab) says; "A 4-day school week in theory sounds lovely but not at all practical."

This hot topic was recently discussed on morning TV show Good Morning Britain. Presenter, Susanna Reid explained that following a 4-day school week trial in the US had apparently led to improved attendance, and wondered if the practice might be better for our children.

Many GMB viewers were angry at the thought of it, one viewer took to Twitter; “4-day school week? How does that prepare them for work?”. While another said: “Absolutely ridiculous. What about childcare?”

According to a recent survey teaching is one of the most overworked professions in the UK. With two-thirds of teachers saying that they’ve reached’ breaking point’. 61% of teachers believed that a 4-day school week would improve their teaching.

 Why might there be a 4-day school week?

A petition (opens in new tab) was recently raised to create a 4-day school week, it was submitted with over 148,000 signatures, and states; “Require schools to make Friday a day off school, meaning there will be 3 days that children will get to stay off every week.”

The Government issued a response on April 21st 2022; “The government has no plans to require schools to make Friday part of the weekend. Regular attendance at school is vital for children’s education, well-being and long-term development….” 

To inform the debate the parliamentary petitions Committee asked petitioners how this 4-day school week would affect them. Some students who completed the survey said; “they were struggling to cope with the school week,” and a whopping 92% of students feel having Fridays off would have a ‘very positive’ effect on their mental health. 

A former Primary school teacher and mum-of-two Jasmine tells us; “I know the perception is ‘teachers get loads of time off’ and it looks like that but the truth is this is an emotionally and mentally demanding job, and it isn’t 9-3pm. 

"Teachers rarely clock off. There’s planning and marking and meetings and more planning, so a 4-day school week may help with the work/life balance for them more."

Kirsty disagrees, and explains how ‘a 4-day week is a lovely idea in theory, but not at all practical’. 

She goes on to tell us; “With kids having missed so much classroom learning and socialising with their peers over the last couple of years, more than ever they need to be in school for 5 days. Increasing the school hours means that after-school clubs will be missed, which are important for children to have.”

The mum-of-two adds; “If you're a full-time working parent, you will need to drop a day at work to look after the kids, which for the majority isn't feasible, so they will end up in childcare and thus not spending time with their families.” 

Mum-of-twins Lucy agrees. She tells us; "I know school isn't childcare as such, but it is a place my children go when I'm working and I know they are safe. If they were off on the Friday I'd be stuck for childcare."

Will a 4-day school week happen?

While many countries, such as Scotland, Japan, Spain and Iceland embrace trials of 4-day work weeks, and the 4-day school week is up for debate, it looks unlikely that it will be happening in the schools of England.

A Department for Education (opens in new tab) spokesperson tells us; "Following the sacrifices young people made during the pandemic there is – now more than ever – a moral imperative to ensure no child is short-changed on their time in school.

“The Government has committed to addressing a lack of consistency in school opening hours, through introducing a minimum expectation of the length of the school week of 32.5 hours for all mainstream state-funded schools by September 2023. 

"Introducing a richer, longer average school week will help pupils make effective use of time in school and to ensure every child across the country enjoys a rounded education.”

Stephanie Lowe
Stephanie Lowe

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodTo covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. With his love of choo-choos, Hey Duggee and finger painting he keeps her on her toes.