School’s four-and-a-half day week will improve productivity, claims headteacher

Executive headteacher of Forest Gate Community School Simon Elliott. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Executive headteacher of Forest Gate Community School Simon Elliott. Picture: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Archant

A secondary school is set to switch to a four-and-a-half day week in a bid to create a “happier, more productive” environment.

From next September, students at Forest Gate Community School will leave just after midday every Friday afternoon.

The school, in Forest Lane, will remain open until 5pm for supervised study and talks from guest speakers though attendance is optional, a letter to parents confirmed this week.

They say staff will be given training to manage the shorter timetable ahead of the introduction of the new policy at the start of the next academic year.

Pay, holiday entitlement and benefits for teachers will remain unchanged, the school said.

Staff will have the option of finishing early or spending the afternoon improving their teaching at professional development training.

Executive headteacher Simon Elliott said that despite the changes, the school will maintain its high academic standards.

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He said: “When you are a top performing school you cannot rest on your laurels, you must always look at ways to improve.

“This is something we are undertaking in the knowledge that we have recruited the committed, talented and passionate teachers who will help us make this a success.

“We are confident that the introduction of a shorter timetable will not impact on our capacity to continue to achieve among the very best results in the country.

“On the contrary, we believe happier, less stressed staff who feel valued will help create the type of learning environment to improve productivity.”

Mr Elliott said the move will also help lift the burden on increasingly overworked staff and improve the quality of teaching.

He added: “This about moving away from a culture that has developed in the teaching profession of over burdening staff with excessively long hours.

“It is about teaching them to focus on the most important aspect of their profession which is engaging the hearts and minds of the young people they teach.

“The benefit to the students is that they we will be able to recruit, train and most crucially retain the very best teachers which means better quality of teaching in the classroom.”

He added: “We will be using Friday afternoons to invite in special guest speakers who can talk to our students about areas of study they are passionate about.

“This will not be compulsory but will offer students the opportunity to take their learning beyond what can be taught in the classroom.”