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Education Secretary applauds schools 45-hour week plans
Greenacre Primary School in Great Yarmouth - called by the Education Secretary "one of the weakest primary schools in an area of real deprivation" is becoming an academy.
Michael Gove calls that news "fantastic".
One of the most controversial changes to the school is going to be the new timetable, seeing Years 5 and 6 pupils staying on at Greenacre until 6pm each day.
Mr Gove says: “I think it’s a brilliant idea. The longer students spend in school the better they will do.
“It also helps parents, actually, making it easier for them to get promoted at work or move jobs in the town and I think it’s absolutely fantastic that the new headteacher there wants to spend time with the students and help them to do better.”
However, not all parents are thrilled at the plans, made possible by sponsorship from millionaire Theodore Agnew, a non-executive member of the Department for Education Board, and Chairman of the Norfolk Community Foundation.
Mr Agnew says the transition to academy status will offer children the rounded education their children could not otherwise afford.
Consultation about that transition was, says headteacher Bill Holledge, open, with information on the school website and discussion at a coffee morning.
One parent, Tony Blencowe, disputes that, saying that he tried to view information online, but the school website was not working until the last day of the consultation period, adding: “I find it hard to believe that a consultation can take place at a coffee morning”.
About Mr Agnew's reference to parents not having the means to offer their children this level of education, Mr Blencowe says: “I find these comments very insulting when it was my choice to buy our house here.
“Maybe I’m not a multi-millionaire, but our child does after school activities four nights a week plus Saturday mornings, and so do many other children.
“Maybe Mr Agnew should think before he judges people as there are many good working class people who live in this area.”
More than 130 parents have signed a petition against the move, many of them claiming that their children will be so tired they'll be unable to concentrate.
The Education secretary may have a point when he says the longer students stay in school the better they will do. Ordinarily, though, statements like that tend to refer to the duration of their education, rather than how late they return home at the end of the day.
An increasing number of teenagers, though, are choosing to leave formal education earlier than their university-going counterparts, preferring instead to take up apprenticeships which not only offer on-the-job training combined with classroom education, but also an apprentice salary.
And in many cases, the later apprentices leave work each day, the more in the way of overtime payment they receive.