London school shortens the working week by ten per cent

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Executive headteacher Simon Elliott outside Forest Gate Community School. Image: FGCS’s newsletter from April 2019

Later in the afternoon today, students at secondary schools around the country shut their books after the first week back from half-term.

It’s the weekend, finally.

However, the Summer term will be the last one looking like this for all the students at Forest Gate Community School (FGCS) in Newham, London.

That’s because the school has decided to switch from a five day to a four-and-a-half day school week.

Tom Barnes of the Forest Gate Community School said the motivation for this change has been to get a ‘happier, more productive staff and more engaged students.’

And contrary to what one might fear, the number of staff will remain the same:

There will be no redundancy, just a shorter work for all staff so that they will have more time to spend with friends and family.

National requirements for the students’ learning remain the same despite FGCS switching to a shorter week and this means that all the teachers will undergo training to be able to manage shorter timetables:

They [the teachers] are already undergoing personalised training to ensure the extremely high educational standards remain in place.

An opposing view might argue that switching to a four-and-a-half day week is too insignificant to make a change.

Tom Barnes acknowledges this.  He says, ‘studies have shown that reduced working leads to more productive and happier staff.’

Forest Gate Community School. Photo: Anonymous

Looking ahead, what will happen from now on with all the empty classrooms on Friday afternoons?

Forest Gate Community School will invite the students to participate in optional lectures from guest speakers, encouraging them to continue learning:

The speakers will be from a range of different industries and professions but will focus on those who can offer an insight not available in classrooms.

It’s hard to argue that staff will not benefit from the shorter week, as the Prospect Guardian reportedly found.

But with the increasing pressures of assessment for students it also hard to tell if this change will benefit them as well.


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