Fancy a day off? How about a regular four-day week? Most of us would jump at the chance when it comes to our own jobs. However, when we mention schools, not everyone is quite so keen. So, why would any school opt for a four day week instead of five? If they did, would it work?
Money - We are living in a time of austerity, and schools all across the country are facing funding cuts. By moving to a four-day week, these education settings could potentially save thousands of pounds in staffing, utilities and school equipment costs. That’s all very well, but working parents argue that they would also either have to give up their own jobs to care for their children for an extra day a week, or spend mega-bucks on daycare. What about all of the auxiliary staff and specialist education suppliers? Would they see a sharp dip in income? Is it possible that the massive earnings and revenue shift involved in transitioning to a four-day teaching week could be disastrous for the country's economy?
More efficient use of time - <a href="https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1164595.pdf">Some educators think</a> that a four day week could cut out unnecessary breaks from the school day without hurting overall student achievement. They say they are teachers, not babysitters, and that parents could be taking more responsibility for their own children. Students might argue that they already work hard enough at their school desks, and our young millennials rate highly for anxiety-related conditions. Do we really want to pile on more pressure four days a week?
What about the teachers? - In 2017, the UK’s Department for Education <a href="https://www.tes.com/news/teachers-work-54-hour-week-dfe-survey-finds">surveyed</a> teachers and announced that they were already working an average 54 hours a week. Many teachers work longer than that. Even if the school week drops to four days, the number of students sitting at each school desk will ultimately stay the same. Will we expect our teachers to work four much more intensive days and still work on the fifth day as well?
When would a four-day week work best? - There are definitely some advantages to a four-day week for some families and students. Individuals living in very rural communities with long travel distances might benefit from having an extra day at home. Some young people are heavily invested in work experience opportunities and could take advantage of a day each week to progress their learning in a workplace.
Who would suffer the most? - In the UK, an increasing number of students are coming forward with <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/729208/SEN_2018_Text.pdf">special educational needs</a>. Many of these children need specialised teaching and routine five days a week. Their parents and carers rely on it too. These young people would find a four-day week especially hard to cope with. And, families would be left to pick up the pieces.
One thing is for sure, the suggestion of a four-day school week arouses strong emotions. Would it work? What do you think?
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