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MINISTERS WANT LONGER SCHOOL DAY

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Three-hour lessons and longer school days are being proposed by ministers under a radical shake-up of teaching to b...
Three-hour lessons and longer school days are being proposed by ministers under a radical shake-up of teaching to be proposed by ministers this week, reported The Independent on Sunday (p13).

A confidential draft of proposals by school standards minister David Miliband calls for flexibility on the length of lessons and school days. The idea is to give successful headteachers as much freedom as possible to run their own schools.

The move could lead to more schools copying Thomas Telford, the country's top-performing comprehensive, which has been at the forefront of pioneer longer lessons and school days. The school, a city technology college with freedom to experiment with new styles of teaching, estimates that its pupils have spent an extra year in the classroom by the time they take their GCSEs. They study for up to 35 hours a week at school when approaching exams.

Teachers' leaders are dubious about longer hours, saying it is difficult to concentrate or teach for such a long spell.

The National Union of Teachers is also anxious about another proposal that would give headteachers flexibility on class sizes. It says the plan - which would not affect the ban on classes of more than 30 for five to seven-year-olds - could lead to larger classes, and it is refusing to sign up to the document. The other major flashpoint is the government's proposal to allow classroom assistants to take charge of lessons - a move which the NUT says will 'turn the clock back nearly 30 years' to the days before teaching became an all-graduate profession.
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