Wales reform of the school day and year — March 2022

In March 2022, 6843 parents and carers gave us their thoughts on the idea of an extended school day, and possible changes to the school year in Wales. This research was in collaboration with Child Poverty Action Group.

In collaboration with Child Poverty Action Group, this research sought to better understand the views of parents and carers in Wales on breakfast clubs, after-school provision and extra-curricular opportunities. We also asked parents and carers for their views on the length of the school year. Our survey with nearly 7000 parents and carers looked at what provision already exists outside core school hours, recognising that many schools in Wales already offer a broad range of activities, as well as what parents would like to see on offer in the future.

Key findings 

  • Four in five parents in Wales would welcome the opportunity for their child to take part in a range of activities outside of core school hours, with physical activity and sport the most popular option (64%).
  • Primary school parents were more likely to want children to have access to extra art and drama activities (53%) and music activities (52%), while secondary parents favoured activities that focused on additional opportunities for academic learning (39%) and access to homework clubs (41%).
  • Over a third of primary parents living on a lower income (36%) reported that the option of after-school activities for their children would help them to work. 
  • Despite the Welsh Government’s aim to ensure that all primary school children can access a free breakfast if they need one, more than 1 in 7 primary school parents living on a lower income reported that they could not access a breakfast club, either because there wasn’t enough space for their child (numbers were limited) or because their school didn’t have any breakfast provision. Some schools also charge parents for breakfast provision which may act as a barrier for some families.
  • Families living on a lower income were almost twice as likely as the wider sample (23% compared to 13%) to say that using breakfast clubs helped to reduce the cost of living. 
  • The majority of all parents (56%) were supportive of a more evenly spread school year, but those living on a lower income expressed a greater interest in this option (59%).
  • Families that reported struggling with costs and childcare over the summer holidays were much more likely (72%) to be in favour of a more even school year including a shorter summer holiday. This compared to just 29% of families being in favour if they did not face these challenges.

Our methodology 

Parents and carers across Wales were invited to take part in an online survey during January 2022. The survey was available in English and Welsh. In total, we heard from 6,843 parents and carers. 5,350 had a youngest child in primary school, and 1,493 had their youngest child in secondary school. 1,676 were either in receipt of, or in the process of applying for, means-tested benefits. This represents 25% of the entire sample; we refer to these respondents as lower income families’ in our analysis.