Most parents (56%) do not want the school day compulsorily extended to give children an extra half-hour of academic catch-up, a survey of 888 parents by Parentkind and Child Poverty Action Group has found - but there is strong support (65%) for more extra-curricular activities out-of-school hours.
Opposition to an extra half hour of compulsory catch-up in school – which Ministers are reportedly considering - is strongest among parents with children at secondary school – 63% don’t like the idea, compared to 52% of parents with primary school children.
A large majority (79%) of parents say any extension of schooling – for any purpose – must be optional, not compulsory. Just under a third (32%) would support a longer school day for optional rather than compulsory academic learning but most (65%) would welcome an extension for optional extra-curricular provision like physical activities, music, art and drama. Parents are especially keen (60%) to have more physical activities before or after school.
Among parents on means-tested benefits, three in five said extra-curricular provision before and after school would give their children access to opportunities that might otherwise be difficult for them to provide. Two in five said it would mean they or their partner could work or work more. Seventy per cent said having to pay for activities would make it less likely their child could attend.
Many schools across England deliver services and activities that go beyond the core function of the school day – like breakfast clubs, homework clubs, sport and music lessons. But these are usually funded by charities and fundraising. As not every school has the money or capacity to do them, provision is patchy.
Parentkind and CPAG are urging Government to boost its Covid-19 education recovery plan by providing schools with adequate funding to develop low or no-cost, before-and-after-school extra-curricular programmes to support pupils and families in their communities. This Autumn’s Spending Review must include dedicated funding for this purpose, the charities say.
Parentkind CEO John Jolly said: "As parents are a primary stakeholder in children's education, it's only right that policymakers take notice of their views. This past year and a half has seen the parental role in education increase dramatically, and many want it to stay that way. Parents are well-placed to know which education recovery options will work well for their child, and parent voice is clear on this issue. The majority want to see more extra-curricular activities that will help children's learning and the development of character and skills, but they will also provide all-important chances to socialise and have some much-needed fun. These opportunities are especially urgent for children from more disadvantaged families."
Head of CPAG’s Cost of the School Day programme Kate Anstey said: "Extra-curricular activities around the school day can boost children’s learning, development and well-being and help parents to work. It’s our responsibility to help children recover the ground they’ve lost to Covid-19 and to back parents trying to stay afloat. The time to invest in extending extra-curricular provision is now. To do less is to leave the life chances of the poorest children in jeopardy."
See the full 'Extended School Day Parent Poll Results' report.
A short online survey, promoted to parents in England via social media, was active between 16th and 29th June 2021. Parents were asked to answer the questions with their eldest child in mind. 888 parents completed the survey. 61% of parents responded with a primary school child and 31% with a secondary school child. 16% of respondents are receiving or are in the processing of applying for, means-tested benefits.