Outcome of the Consultation
In April, the leaders of Sitwell Junior School initiated a consultation period regarding a proposed change to the school day starting in September 2019. Under the proposal, the school day would end at 3pm; however, pupils would continue to receive the same amount of time in lessons as they currently do, due to shortening lunchtime and changes already made to how children enter school in the morning.
As part of the consultation, interested parties, including Parents, Staff, the Local Governing Body and the Board of Trustees were invited to share their views on the proposal either in writing or via email. A hard copy of the letter announcing the consultation was sent to all parents of pupils in Y3-Y5 at the school. Staff members, Governors and the Board of Trustees were informed via email. The consultation letter was also accessible online and displayed on the homepage of the School Website and parents also received a reminder text message about the consultation, four days before the deadline. The consultation closed on 30th April. A total of fifty-eight responses were received during the consultation – twenty-four of these were from parents, representing 10% of our parent community. Out of the fifty-eight responses, sixteen were broadly neutral in view, twenty-three were positive and nineteen raised concerns/suggestions.
School’s response to most common consultation comments
The responses to the consultation covered a range of views from wholly supportive to wholly against. Where those in favour stated a reason they tended to cite spending increased time with their children, the opportunity for more children to engage in after-school clubs, learning which is more efficient and focused in the afternoon and less fatigue in children which will in turn lead to better outcomes for learners. Opposition views centred mainly on the issues of childcare and financial implications, a reduced forty-five minute lunch period and crossing patrol concerns.
The school responded as follows:
The minimum teaching requirements, as advised by the Government, would not be compromised by the changes suggested and the school would still teach above the suggested minimum teaching hours. Sitwell Junior School continues to be proud to offer a wide variety of after school clubs, four days per week and from September, clubs would be provided on a Friday too. School leaders are grateful to the Sitwell staff who currently lead most of these clubs, giving up their own time so that children can develop a range of skills: to be clear staff giving up their time is not mandatory and is rarely seen in other school communities. Few schools provide such a service, where children have the opportunity to attend a club most evenings – at most primary schools, parents have no alternative but to collect their children at the end of the school day.
As a result of some of the concerns expressed regarding the financial impact shortening the length of the school day may have on working parents, the school would select one club which would be free of charge, Monday to Friday 3pm-4pm, for parents who work contracted hours and may struggle to arrive at school for a 3pm finish or for older children, who are relied upon to collect siblings from Sitwell. Places for this club would be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Also, the school would continue to offer a variety of other clubs, at a cost of £2.50 per session, so that children have the opportunity to develop a wide range of interests that they may not normally be able to pursue during the school day.
Benefits to after-school activities are wide and varied and research suggests that participation in extra-curricular activities on a regular basis is the best way to help children develop their individual personality, cut down on emotional stress, and enhance social or academic skills that could benefit them in the future. After-school clubs allow children to establish and build on existing friendships, nurture social skills and develop confidence – most activities work to teach children the value of working as a team to achieve a mutual goal – a skill that will benefit them in the future. Not only do they help to improve life and social skills, but they also promote emotional well-being and healthy hobbies. Furthermore, the school would continue to keep exercise a priority by participating in the ‘Daily Mile’. This active time would be taken flexibly at the class teacher’s discretion, giving the children a mental and physical boost to further enhance learning opportunities.
In terms of concerns expressed regarding lunchtime, the time to serve the meals in the dinner hall would remain the same (1 hour), as the school would stagger lunchtime so lower-school children would eat first at 12pm-12:45pm, followed by upper-school children at 12:15pm-1pm. After consulting with the cook and Senior SMSA and having monitored the dinner hall at lunchtime, the school is confident that children would have the time to eat their lunch and also spend time socialising with friends. There is an absolute commitment by the school that children would have enough time to comfortably eat their lunch.
With regards to the Crossing Patrol, the current morning School Crossing Patrol session would remain the same and run from 8:25am to 9:10am. The afternoon session would change to 2:55pm until 3:30pm, to support children and parents from both the Infant and Junior Schools.
The Chair of Governors and CEO of Inspire Trust have reviewed all the responses to the consultation, considered the comments and suggestions made and questioned the Head Teacher in light of the consultation. Having considered all views, the decision has been made to implement the amendment to the school day as planned from September 2019 and, therefore, school will finish at 3pm. This change will run for the full academic year. It will be monitored by school leaders and the Chair of Governors and will be reviewed again during the Summer Term 2020.
This change is being made as school leaders and Governors believe this adjustment will maximise teaching and learning throughout school to improve educational outcomes and ensure your child receives positive experiences throughout the day, including during lesson time and at unstructured times.
As always, thank you for your continued support.
Jennifer Dawson Peter Sheldon
Head Teacher Chair of Governors