March primary school to introduce shorter Fridays for pupils

Westwood Community Primary School that has replaced Maple Grove Infant School
Westwood Community Primary School that has replaced Maple Grove Infant School

A March school has confirmed it will begin to roll out a shorter teaching week for some of its pupils from this autumn.

Officials at Westwood Primary say free childcare will be offered to parents in work or full-time education for the first year of the scheme, but not beyond if the programme is extended.

The school announced last month that it would consult on its plans to introduce an earlier finish to lessons on Friday afternoons.

Managers say the move is necessary to give teaching staff time for lesson planning and preparation, plus work assessment.

In a letter to parents, the school said it would implement a 1.15pm finish on Fridays for populs in the early years and infant classes from this September, with junior classes remaining in lessons until 3.15pm each day.

If the measure is deemed to be successful, the earlier Friday finish will be extended to the whole school from September 2018.

In the letter, chair of governors Natasha Hardy and headteacher Gill Thomas said: “We are very aware that this decision is not the desired outcome for all parents and it will also be of an inconvenience to some members of our community.

“However, we feel that the governing body must continue to aspire to ensure that the school delivers an outstanding education for your child and the implementation of this change will support this greatly.”

The school has published on its website copies of a consultation document it invited to parents to complete to have their say on the move.

They show a majority of parents in favour of the switch, although the letter also acknowledged that a “significant” number of parents had not expressed an opinion.

The school says it will provide free childcare for working parents and parents in full-time study during the 2017-18 academic year, though a “reasonable cost” would be required if the scheme was to continue thereafter.

The measures will also include a shorter lunch break of 45 minutes.

The letter added that governors would monitor the impact of the change over the coming year through a series of methods including questionnaires to pupils, parents and staff, monitoring by senior staff and governors, data analysis of pupil progress and through its links with the local authority.