Schools given freedom to control their timetable


New changes mark the end of the bureaucratic process that used to be in place to extend school hours or change lunchtimes. All schools will now able to vary their school day as they wish.
Under new changes which came into effect on 1 September 2011, local authority maintained schools now have the same freedoms as foundation, foundation special, voluntary aided schools and academies.

Up until now, if a local authority maintained school wanted to change its lunchtime, for example, by five minutes or extend its school hours, it had to go through a bureaucratic process which could take months.

Many academies have taken advantage of this freedom to vary their school day to provide extra-curricular activities or additional learning.

At the Milton Keynes Academy, students have a 30-hour week, with lessons from 8.30am to 3.20pm each day, which gives them five hours of extra learning per week and allows for all students to receive the equivalent of an hour of both literacy and numeracy every day.

Haberdashers' Aske’s Federation of Academies across London maximise learning and teaching time by extending the length of the school day.

Schools will still be expected to consult and to take account of the views of all interested parties before they implement any changes to the school day. They will be advised to consult and serve reasonable notice on their local authority, parents, pupils and staff, but free from national regulation being imposed on them.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "We want to give teachers and heads more power over how they run their schools. It shouldn't be central government or detailed regulation that determines the time a school day starts or the length of the school lunch break."

"Academies have already benefited from this freedom and used it to help their pupils with catch up lessons or extra-curricular activities."