Ex-Ofsted chief blasts headteachers who cut Friday lessons to boost staff morale and urges schools to put on Saturday classes

Sir Michael Wilshaw said many children need ‘more time in school, not less’ and even urged headteachers to lay on extra hours in the week and on Saturdays to help those struggling. The Daily Mail reports.

Last year it emerged 24 schools across the UK had scrapped Friday afternoon lessons, with another 200 threatening the same drastic move.

Some adopted the half-day to boost the morale of overworked staff, while others said it is necessary to cut teaching costs – for example, by employing fewer classroom assistants – amid a squeeze on budgets.

But Sir Michael, who was head of Ofsted until 2016, said the move would damage pupils’ education and called on inspectors to be ‘critical’ of such schools.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘No good head wants a shortened school day. I feel this is a mistake – it is the thin end of the wedge and would give encouragement to weak heads to do this sort of thing.”

Many private schools and ‘outstanding’-rated comprehensives run longer hours in the week and open on Saturdays for extra tuition and sports, the ex-Ofsted chief added.

‘They do it in the independent sector, why shouldn’t we do it in the state sector? If you go into a really great school they will be open during the twilight hours, offering their facilities to the local community,’ he said. 

Sir Michael is the former head of Mossbourne Academy in east London, which he turned from being one of Britain’s worst-performing schools into one of its best, despite it serving a deprived community. He said the success was partly down to keeping children late after school to help with homework and bringing them in on Saturdays.

He added that while he paid teachers for the extra work, he thought staff in ‘good schools’ would want to put in the added hours regardless of remuneration, because they ‘want to see the children doing well’.

Read the full article Ex-Ofsted chief blasts headteachers who cut Friday lessons to boost staff morale and urges schools to put on Saturday classes

Does your school close early? Has it made a difference to staff and pupils? Would you be willing to do unpaid extra hours?  Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. “Mossbourne Academy … turned from being one of Britain’s worst-performing schools into one of its best”

    That is a lie.

    Mossbourne was a completely new school with new buildings, new staff, and a new set of children – with ‘problem’ children mostly being kept away and left for other schools to deal with. It just happened to be on the site where an entirely different school had been years previously.

  2. Mickey Mouse

    when you are on £200k+ as head of ofsted i am sure you don’t mind working saturday’s. Why the F$%^ would a teacher who has not had a proper pay rise for 8 years want to work a saturday!

  3. Caroline Allred

    I agree with Sir Michael! For some children school is their only stability. Also, I would be interested in what parents think and how they cover the extra child care? Long term I’d be interested in accidents and road traffic incidents and indeed petty crime rates? In my opinion, it is purely a funding issue. It’s wrong!

  4. Anonymous

    Caroline: I agree that, for some children, school is their only stability but that is not a reason for making teachers work longer hours, possibly neglecting their own children. If Wilshaw thinks that there should be a longer school week he should be arguing for increased staffing. Parents and the general public often think that teachers only work school hours with just a little bit extra. This is absolutely not the case and I am in a position to judge – I worked for over 10 years elsewhere before becoming a teacher. Even in the voluntary sector, working long hours, it did not compare with the hours and exhaustion in teaching. Things are much worse now with so much work being mindless “accountability” nonsense, rather than preparation for teaching.

    If the school day is to be extended then it requires additional staffing and, since many schools are struggling to keep enough staff to cover existing hours, that seems to be rather pie in the sky.

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