TWO HAMPSHIRE schools have delayed a decision on whether to forge ahead with plans to lengthen the academic day.
Senior staff at Fawley Infant and Blackfield Primary say they need more time to address some of the concerns raised by parents after the proposals were published four months ago.
The two academies want to extend the teaching day by 25 minutes to meet the demands of the modern curriculum.
As previously reported it could result in the spring and autumn half-term holidays being lengthened by one week each, enabling staff and pupils to claw back the time.
If the far-reaching scheme goes ahead it will be the first of its type in Hampshire. A decision on whether to proceed with the plan was due to have been announced today but has now been postponed until the spring.
But despite the delay any changes to the timetable will still be introduced in September - the original target date.
In a letter to parents the schools say: “We are committed to ensuring all our children are given the best opportunities to achieve their potential in all areas of school life.
“The consultation period gave parents and carers two full months to respond to proposals.
“There are strong feelings both for and against the school day extension. Whilst we remain committed to extending the school day we need to find solutions to key parental concerns in order to make the longer day successful for the children and their families.”
The letter says one of the concerns raised by the parents was the prospect of having to arrange extra childcare during longer half-term breaks.
It adds: “We need to fully explore these concerns and create solutions in various ways.”
The two academies, which have a total of more than 600 pupils, are only a few miles apart and are run by the same management team.
Executive principal Claire Lowe told the Daily Echo: “Further work is to be undertaken with staff and parents to ensure we can create a successful model for all our children and their families. We will continue to explore all parental concerns and comments to make any planned changes to the school day positive.”
Plans to alter the timetable were unveiled in October last year.
The proposal came under fire from the National Union of Teachers, which said small children had limited attention spans and were unlikely to benefit from longer lessons.
Parents launched an online petition that was signed by about 100 people. Campaigners criticised proposals to extend the May and October half-term breaks but Mrs Lowe responded by saying longer holidays would enable families to go away at times when trips were generally cheaper.
During the consultation period many parents voiced support for the proposals.
One said: “We really welcome the changes, particularly the longer half-term holiday.”
Another added: “Shorter half-terms will be of great benefit to my son as he is noticeably tired nearer the end of term and his behaviour worsens.”