SCHOOL leaders’ union NAHT Cymru is urging the Welsh Government to shelve plans to run a pilot scheme that changes the school day in Wales.

Fourteen schools are taking part in the trial, which would see five extra hours added to the school week.

The changes are intended to help disadvantaged children and it would be up to headteachers in how the extra hours would be added to the day.

However, there are concerns that the changes are coming at the wrong time and would be more harm than help.

Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: "When this idea was first mooted by the Welsh Government, NAHT Cymru raised its concerns over the motivation and timing of such a pilot.

"We have asked the government for the rational and the evidence to support extending the school day and, so far, they have not made the case.

"Schools’ core purpose is teaching and learning and while we want to be supportive of our families, schools are not there as childcare providers.

"Evidence shows that keeping children in school for longer does not increase a child’s capacity to learn; the focus should be on providing quality teaching and learning during schools’ hours.

"It is deeply concerning that the government is prioritising a reform agenda without thinking about the impact on schools.

"NAHT Cymru believes that WG needs to ensure that existing priorities are achieved and embedded before launching yet more initiatives.

"With the new curriculum, inspection arrangements, ALN legislation and qualifications already changing, school day – and indeed year reform, which is also being discussed – is a step too far.

"The fact that only 14 schools have signed up to take part when the government had wanted 20 speaks volumes. 

"The profession is on its knees."

There are concerns that schools simply do not have enough staff to properly implement the changes that are required by the scheme.

However, the Welsh Government are providing £2 million to fund the outsourcing of activites - meaning third parties can be in charge of relevant activites that count towards the extra five hours.

Despite this, the Welsh Government have not been clear on how teachers will be impacted.


Ms Doel said: "Trade unions were not consulted before the government went out to seek expressions of interest from schools to take part, and our concerns about the additional pressure this pilot would put on schools now, when we are clearly suffering from a staff absence crisis, have been ignored.

"The failure to consult with and listen to the profession is concerning, demonstrating a real lack of understanding of the current situation in education.

"Now is not the time for piloting pet projects when schools are breaking point and we urge the government to put any further reform plans and pilots on hold."