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New school start and finish times to be trialled in NSW

Darren Cartwright, June 21, 2021 6:30PM News Corp Australia Network

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Children could soon be arriving at primary schools at different times under a trial announced in NSW. Picture: George Salpigtidis media_cameraChildren could soon be arriving at primary schools at different times under a trial announced in NSW. Picture: George Salpigtidis

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Primary schools will be given the freedom to change their hours under a NSW government trial that will break from the traditional school day.

Instead of the longstanding* 9am to 3pm start and finish times, NSW primary schools will next year be given powers to alter when classes start for the day under a plan to improve learning for students.

The move will also allow flexibility for working families, with principals encouraged to work with parents and students to find the start and finish times that work best for their school community.

Young female teacher in front of five children jumping and shouting media_cameraSchools are being encouraged to work with families and students to find the best hours for their school community.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell told the Sydney Morning Herald traditional start and finish times might no longer suit today’s schools and families.

“The reality is that the traditional school day, like the 9 to 5 workday, is a 20th century concept* which may not always be relevant* for schools in the 21st century,” she said.

“This project is an opportunity to identify measures which remove pressure from parents and carers and improve the educational outcomes for students by being flexible with school hours, and then see how they might be scaled to similar schools.”

A NSW Education department spokesman said details of the plan had yet to be finalised, but start times could take into account before and after school care, and there was also the possibility of a series of staggered* start times across the day.

Kindergarten Primary School Girl Student Arriving for Class media_cameraTraditional 9am to 3pm school hours might not suit all schools and families today.

The change would be similar to Queensland where principals already have the option of moving away from the standard 9am-3pm school day.

Under the Queensland education system, “principals may change school hours to suit local conditions”.

Inner-city Brisbane school Fortitude Valley State Secondary College operates its school day between 9.30am-3.25pm to avoid peak hour drop-off for students.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said flexible school hours provided benefits to students and families.

“By shifting the start of our school day, we are reducing the need for our students to access public transport or commute along busy streets at peak times,” Ms Grace said.

“We are also able to support families who will need to drop off or pick up younger siblings at primary schools first.”

GLOSSARY

  • longstanding: existing for a long time
  • concept: idea
  • relevant: appropriate
  • staggered: set various times

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Which state government is proposing this plan?
  2. When would the trial happen?
  3. What two main reasons are given for looking at the change to school hours?
  4. Which Brisbane school has already introduced different hours?
  5. Name one of the benefits mentioned by Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace.

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. School Time Model
Think about the needs of your primary school, your town, and your community. Work with a partner and offer up some possible timetable changes to the start and finish times of a usual school day that might work better for the children and families that attend. Give your reasons for each suggestion.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and Creative thinking

2. Extension
This model of flexible start times could be even more appropriate for secondary schools. Teenagers’ body clocks change as they grow and often they like to sleep later. What would you suggest that could make schools more appealing for teenage students and their families? It could be later start times, possibly even night school or the like. Think about how online sessions could even be incorporated. Write your suggestions on a sheet of paper.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Opener Up-Level It
Make a list of all the openers in the article. Pick three that repeat and see if you can replace them with another word, or shuffle the order of the sentence to bring a new opener to the front.

Don’t forget to re-read the sentence to make sure it still makes sense, and that it actually sounds better.

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