In a recent conversation with the headmaster of our local Free School – Sir Thomas Fremantle in Winslow – I was impressed to hear about their extended day programme.
Although formal lessons finish at 3pm the compulsory enrichment programme runs until 430pm.
As a result over half of the children learn a musical instrument, the after school sporting programme is extensive, children have the opportunity to learn Italian, Spanish or Mandarin or to use the 3D printers and iPads to take part in various art, design and technology activities.
Additionally teachers offer homework clinics for those who need a bit of extra support with their learning.
That’s 7.5 hours extra time per week with children engaged in activities to develop skills or to just extend their knowledge.In contrast to a commonly held view that the extended day is unpopular with pupils, the children appear to thrive on meeting the challenges of these opportunities.
Setting the bar and hence expectation higher means they will strive to achieve more.
This type of culture brings them up with the belief that accepting average or just ticking over to deliver the bare minimum is not an option, particularly where boys are concerned.
Parents have the advantage of a guaranteed longer working day, leaving more family time at the evenings and weekends.
Mum’s day will not suddenly have to be rearranged due to a cancelled sports fixture or after school club, since this is all delivered as part of the compulsory timetabled school day.
So how can parents with children at other schools learn from this model?
My advice would be to take a refreshed look at the after school programme at your child’s school.
Encourage them to get involved in something new.
Enthuse about the value of an all-round education, highlighting the benefits they will reap when it comes to making a higher education or job application upon leaving school.