NEU survey shows 98% of school staff against extending school day or term

The survey of more than 10,000 school and college staff showed most respondents did not want the school day or term extended, and instead favoured more flexibility in the curriculum

Only 2% of school and college staff believe extending school days or term lengths are worth considering, according to a new survey from The National Education Union (NEU).

The survey, which focuses on poverty, the pandemic and recovery, was conducted shortly before the wider reopening of schools on 8 March and involved more than 10,000 school and college staff who are members of the NEU.

The findings have been released today on the first day of the NEU’s annual conference.

When it came to recovery after the pandemic, 82% want flexibility in the curriculum so educators can decide what’s important for learning and wellbeing.

Furthermore, 37% of respondents said that focusing on core concepts rather than the full curriculum was a valuable takeaway from learning in lockdown.

When asked which features of their working conditions since March 2020 should be retained, 46% of respondents said they had found smaller class sizes rewarding.

Sixty-nine percent believed new ways of working with technology had gone well, with 37% liking the greater levels of communication they had experienced with families, and 57% pleased with online parents’ evenings.

Education professionals have been on the frontline, either virtual or physical, throughout the last 12 months and it is their insights on what has worked best that should be taken forward – Dr Mary Bousted, NEU

Almost half of all respondents (49%) said that a greater public recognition of the needs of disadvantaged pupils had been a positive outcome of the pandemic.

Almost all respondents (94%) believe poverty affects learning, with 51% saying it does so to a “large extent”.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said schools and colleges have gone “beyond the call of duty for [pupils] during this past year, as they always do”.

She also said the Government has “persistently failed to deliver for the young people in poverty whose families need real support and action”.

Dr Bousted continued: “If the Government is serious about building back better, then they should take on board these views. Education professionals have been on the frontline, either virtual or physical, throughout the last 12 months and it is their insights on what has worked best that should be taken forward.

“The genie is out of the bottle so there is no reason to stick by the dead wood of a bloated curriculum, excessive accountability and oversized classes. All are now discredited, not just in the eyes of school and college staff but of parents too. The world has changed because of Covid and the education system should change with it.”

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