Primary School Transforms Results By Introducing Nine Hour Day

14/08/2014 17:02 | Updated 20 May 2015

Young school children listen to teacher

A poorly performing primary school has introduced a compulsory nine-hour day - and it has transformed the school's results.

Juniors at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy start at 8.55am and stay until 6pm to take part in a free programme of activities and complete homework under supervision.

But despite the fact that sounds like an exhaustingly-long school day, the new 45-hour-a-week regime has produced stunning results – transforming the school from one of the worst-performing in the country to earn a 'good' rating from Ofsted in the space of two years.

The school's watchdog highlighted the extended day as a key factor in the school's success, praising its 'outstanding leadership' and remarking that the timetable was improving pupils' life skills and commitment to education.

In its former incarnation as Greenacre Primary, the Norfolk school was among the bottom 200 performers out of 15,000 nationally and was condemned by inspectors as failing in 2010.

The extended week was introduced in 2012 as the school became an academy sponsored by millionaire businessman Theodore Agnew.

Under the controversial timetable – longer than a standard working week – school starts at 8.55am, although pupils are free to attend a breakfast club from 7.45am.

Lessons finish at 3.30pm but those aged seven to 11 stay until 5pm for activities including horse-riding, cookery, cello lessons, first aid, dance and trips to Cambridge University.

Those aged nine to 11, the final two years of school, then spend a further hour on homework or reading under supervision.

Education Secretary Michael Gove supports longer school days, but many in education oppose the idea.

But Bill Holledge, head of Great Yarmouth, said: "Pupils are happy and engaged and bounce out of school at the end of the day."

The longer day initially was controversial among parents who were concerned it would eat into family time and exhaust pupils.

But Mr Holledge said: "Parents have been convinced by the views of their children."

What do you think? Do you worry there's no time for children to be children or are nine hour days the way forward?

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