Extending school day to help students make up for lost learning outcomes ‘won’t improve outcomes much’

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Extending school day to help students make up for lost learning outcomes ‘won’t improve outcomes much’ or help those furthest behind, study suggests

  • Extending the school day “won’t improve results much,” according to a study
  • Cambridge University researchers said a longer day would do ‘relatively little’
  • They said it would be better to re-evaluate ‘how time is used in schools’

Extending the day of school “ won’t improve results much ” and is unlikely to narrow the gap for those who missed the most during the coronavirus blockade, a study finds.

Researchers at Cambridge University found that a substantial increase in classroom hours would likely only lead to ‘minor improvements’ in students and do ‘relatively little’ to improve academic results.

Researchers said teachers should instead re-evaluate “how time is used in schools” and “may find it more productive to think carefully about the range and quality of the activities on offer.”

The study comes months after unions demanded that ministers reject proposals to extend school days, claiming there are “better methods” to help students make up for lost time in class.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that a substantial increase in classroom hours would likely only lead to minor improvements among students. (Stock image)

The analysis used five years of government data collected from more than 2,800 schools in England to estimate the likely impact of additional classroom teaching on academic progress, as measured at GCSE.

For example, extending the class time of grade 11 students by one hour per class, in English or math, was associated with an increase of 0.12 and 0.18 in a school’s ‘added value’ score – a standard measure of progress.

This increase seems small, given that most of the schools in the study had scores between 994 and 1006.

The research, published in the journal London Review of Education, also examined the likely effect on underprivileged students, whose education has been hit hardest by school closures.

Consistent with the overall results, it was again found that more of the same education would probably contribute relatively little to improving academic outcomes.

Vaughan Connolly, a doctoral researcher at Cambridge’s Faculty of Education, said: “Simply keeping all students in school longer to do more math or more English is unlikely to improve the results much; nor is it likely to narrow the performance gap for those who missed the most.

This evidence suggests that re-evaluating how time is used in schools – for example, by shortening subject time and replacing it with sessions focused on ‘learning to learn’ skills – could make a bigger difference.

‘Quality is going to be much more important than quantity in the long term.

Vaughan Connolly, a PhD student at Cambridge's Faculty of Education, said: 'If you keep all students in school longer to be able to do more math or more English, the results are unlikely to improve much'

Vaughan Connolly, a PhD student at Cambridge’s Faculty of Education, said: ‘If you keep all students in school longer to be able to do more math or more English, the results are unlikely to improve much’

Mr. Connolly added: ‘Rather than extending the school day to provide more instruction, a successful recovery agenda could be one that tailors support and allows for a wider range of learning in it, in line with recent suggestions of the Educational Policy Institute.

In that sense, less instruction time could actually be more.

“Certainly, these results suggest that children are unlikely to give more of the same if we are to recover what was lost during the pandemic.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: students, less time with the family and less time for extracurricular activities. ‘

In February, the union of NAHT school leaders urged ministers to reject the ‘superficially attractive’ policy of an extended school day.

NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Research shows that there are better methods of helping students than extending the school day.

“The government should filter out loud calls for superficially attractive schemes and listen to the experts instead.”

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