The education sector has been facing financial problems for a number of years now. And with funding cuts and more students than ever coming through their doors, there’s no wonder. However that issue has become even more prominent recently as cash-strapped schools look to the future and the possibility of introducing a four-day week.
For as long as many of us can remember school has followed the same pattern as the working week, Monday to Friday. For between six and seven hours per day, five days per week, children between the ages of five and 18 are learning, socialising and playing with kids their own age. However due to underfunding, that could all be set to change in one of the UK’s counties.
Schools in West Sussex have warned they may have no choice but to cut their hours due to a cash shortage, and have even proposed the idea of cutting down to a four day week – unless they are given emergency financial help from the government. And it’s not just primary schools this may be affecting – every single primary, secondary and special school in the county is struggling. Head teachers from the schools have written to parents notifying them of the issues and reiterating the fact that all the obvious cuts to school spending have already been made, and as a last ditch attempt to save money, are now they are considering “modifying school hours”.
Up until the Brexit vote, schools in the underfunded counties, such as West Sussex, were looking forward to the government’s £500m national funding formula for schools. This was due to be introduced next year, but due to the Brexit vote and outcome, that has been pushed back. The funding was designed to address the historic inequalities in the system and even out the funding to ensure every school can reach its potential, and as a result, encourage students to do the same. Yet due to the vote, and that funding looking less and less likely to come within the next year, head teachers in West Sussex have said they need £20m of emergency funds next April in order to tide them over.
How a four-day school week would work remains unclear. However both head teachers and leaders of the Worth Less? Campaign, the group dedicated to securing equal founding for schools in the county, are hoping their warnings will refocus government ministers and bring education back to the forefront of discussion. And in particular, hit a note with schools minister Nick Gibb, who is MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
How do you feel about a four-day week for your children – could it actually be a good thing?