Hertfordshire councillor renews calls to extend school day to help children catch up after pandemic
The resources and support on offer to the county’s youngsters was highlighted at a meeting of the county council’s overview and scrutiny committee
Liberal Democrat Cllr Laurence Brass has repeated calls for schools to stay open for an extra half hour every day – to help children catch up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are concerns that after long periods of home-schooling during previous waves of the pandemic, some children may have fallen behind.
And ‘Herts for Learning’ have already drawn-up packages of support for Hertfordshire schools to help children re-adjust to the classroom and to catch up.
The resources – and support – on offer to the county’s youngsters was highlighted at a meeting of the county council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, December 9, as part of a review of ‘education recovery post pandemic’.
But Cllr Brass used the opportunity to renew calls for an extension of the school day.
He had previously made a similar point at a meeting of the council’s education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel in September.
At the meeting on Thursday he suggested that extending the school day seemed an ‘obvious’ part of education recovery, following the pandemic lockdowns.
“Give them another half an hour,” he suggested to the committee.
“All these hours and days people have been taken off because of covid… Extend the school day. Three o’clock is early.”
And he suggested the longer school day would reflect the approach of schools in the independent sector.
“I notice in Bushey – which I represent – they are all disappearing at three o’clock,” he said.
“And the independent schools across the road are just starting their afternoon’s work.
“Can’t we find the resources to extend the school day – even by just 30 minutes? It would make such a difference.”
And she said HfL’s ‘coming back stronger’ initiatives were focussed on support they could offer through consultancy, advice and training.
“Schools, as you know, make their own decisions through their governing bodies and trust boards about the length and organisation and structure of their school day,” she said.
“So, that is not something that we can provide funding to impose or change. I suppose what I am saying is that is just not part of the remit of Herts for Learning.”
And that was echoed by the county council’s operations director (education) Simon Newland.
He said that there were national regulations within which schools have to operate.
But he said that ‘by and large’ it was up to schools themselves to organise how they ‘do their business’.
He said that schools did have different opening and closing times. And he suggested it may be something Cllr Brass could discuss with individual local schools.
He said: “It might be something that when you visit your local schools you test the water with them – and find out what their particular perspective on it is in your local community.”