The Telegraph is reporting that just one per cent of secondary schools now have afternoon breaks compared to 41 per cent almost three decades ago, according to study by University College London’s Institute of Education.
Researchers examined how school breaks and children’s social lives have changed over time by comparing data from over 1,000 primary and secondary schools in 2017, 2006 and 1995.
There has been a “marked reduction” in the total amount of break time children are allowed, with 11 to 16-year-olds now having 65 minutes per week less than they did a quarter of a century ago.
It comes amid rising concern about childhood obesity levels, with more than 22,000 out of 556,000 of children in Year 6 classed as severely obese.
“Not only are break times an opportunity for children to get physical exercise – an issue of particular concern given the rise in obesity – but they provide valuable time to make friends and to develop important social skills, experiences that are not necessarily learned or taught in formal lessons,” said Dr Ed Baines, one of the report’s authors
Dr Baines said that the decline in lunch breaks is of “particular concern”, adding that children now “barely have enough time to queue up and to eat their lunch” let alone have time for anything else.
In 1995, just a third of secondary schools (30 per cent) reported lunch breaks of less than 55 minutes, but now this has risen to 82 per cent. Meanwhile, a quarter of secondary schools reported lunchtimes of 35 minutes or less.
The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, also found that there has been a “marked increase” in the average numbers of adults supervising at breaktimes in primary and secondary schools since 1995.
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