Closed petition Require schools to make Friday a part of the school weekend
Require schools to make Friday a day off school, meaning there will be 3 days that children will get to stay off every week.
Children can have lots of stress at school due to exams and homework and with a 3 day weekend, children could have a longer time to relax and let off stress gained from school.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
Parliament debated this topic
This topic was debated on 27 June 2022
This response was given on 21 April 2022
The government has no plans to require schools to make Friday part of the weekend. Regular attendance at school is vital for children’s education, well-being and long term development.
Read the response in full
The government has no plans to require schools to make Friday part of the weekend. We know that being in school, enjoying a broad and balanced education and achieving academically are key protective factors that help to promote mental health and well-being. That’s why our White Paper, Opportunity for all - strong schools with great teachers for your child, (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/opportunity-for-all-strong-schools-with-great-teachers-for-your-child) sets out that we are focusing on ensuring that pupils enjoy a richer school week with a broad range of subjects, extra-curricular and pastoral activities. The Children’s Commissioner also recently published survey results from the ‘The Big Ask’, which found children missed their friends, their teachers and activities during lockdown and were happy to return to real classroom learning; 84% of children reported being happy or OK with school life.
The government also believes that exams and other assessments are an essential part of ensuring that young people have acquired the knowledge and skills they need in order to succeed in further study and in later life. The government is clear that schools should encourage pupils to work hard, but not at the expense of their well-being. Examinations are by their very nature stressful, but when pupils receive the right support, for very many of them, the level of stress from exams is manageable and a certain level of stress can be helpful in motivating students to do their best. Ofqual have issued guidance on coping with exam pressure, (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coping-with-exam-pressure-a-guide-for-students) which provides some techniques which students can use to help alleviate or lessen the anxiety they have about setting exams
The government believes that homework is an important part of a good education. Homework that is planned as an integral part of the curriculum gives pupils the opportunity to practice and reinforce what they have been taught in class, to help them consolidate and extend the knowledge and understanding they have acquired. Homework also enables teachers to check pupils’ understanding systematically, identify misconceptions accurately and provide clear, direct feedback.
However, the government acknowledges that some pupils have needed additional well-being support after school closures in 2020 and 2021. To support pupils the DfE invested £15 million in Wellbeing for Education Recovery and Return programmes. These provided free, expert training, support and resources for education staff, helping to promote and support the well-being and mental health of pupils and students as they recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently the government has reviewed the issue of time spent in school. In November 2021, we published a review of time in school and 16 to 19 settings (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1031290/Review_of_time_in_school_and_16_to_19_settings.pdf) which showed that more time in school, if used well, can benefit pupil outcomes. However, we know some pupils currently receive more time in school than others due to differences in opening hours which is unfair and leads to an accumulated disadvantage over time. To address this, the government set out in the White Paper a minimum expectation of a 32.5 hour school week for all pupils, which should be delivered over 5 days. Most schools already have a school week of at least 32.5 hours and all state-funded, mainstream schools will be expected to deliver this by September 2023 at the latest. Having a minimum length of school week will ensure that all pupils have fair access to broad and balanced curriculum, which will support their academic achievement as well as their well-being.
We recognise that the lessons we have learned during the pandemic must help us strengthen and improve the overall system. That’s why we are in the process of reviewing the school attendance system as a whole and have recently consulted on proposals aimed at transforming the consistency and quality of attendance support for families across England. We set out more detail about this approach in our recent Schools White Paper.
Considering the wider benefits of time in school, the government therefore has no plans to remove Friday from the school week. If schools were to close on Fridays pupils would lose 38 school days on average in each academic year. Given the disruption to education caused by the pandemic, now more than ever, it is vital that we do not lose time in school that will support pupils to achieve their full potential.
Department for Education
Other parliamentary business
Share your views on making Friday part of the school weekend with MPs
The MPs on the Petitions Committee have scheduled a debate on a petition calling for Friday to be made part of the school weekend, which you have signed. The debate will be held on Monday 27 June at 4.30pm. We'll share details of how to follow the debate closer to the time.
Catherine McKinnell MP, the Chair of the Committee, has been asked by the Committee to open the debate. To inform the debate, she would like to hear the views of students, their parents and carers, and teachers on the idea of making Friday part of the school weekend in England, and how such a change would affect them.
Share your views with Catherine by completing this survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/LHIKE7/
The survey will remain open until 9am on Monday 13 June.
Your responses will be anonymous. A summary of responses will be published on the Committee's website. It will also be shared with MPs and your responses may be quoted directly during the debate.
A shorter school week would have a very positive effect on students' mental health, say petitioners
On Monday 27 June, MPs will debate a petition that calls on the Government to make Friday part of the school weekend, which you signed. Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP will open the debate, and the Government will send a minister to respond.
Watch the debate (from 4.30pm, Monday 27 June): https://youtu.be/yi2bBaa8Qps
Read a transcript of everything that is said in the debate (available a few hours after the debate has ended): https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-06-27
What petitioners told us about how making Friday part of the school weekend would affect them
To inform this debate, the Committee asked people who'd signed this petition how they thought making Friday part of the school weekend would affect them. Key findings from the survey included:
- Many of the students who completed the survey said they were struggling to cope with the school week
- Most of the students, parents and teachers who completed the survey thought that making Friday part of the school weekend would be a ‘great idea’
- 92% of students felt having Fridays off school would have a ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’ effect on their mental health
- Students said that if they weren’t in school on Friday, they would be most likely to spend time with family, with friends, and doing homework or studying
- Most parents who completed the survey thought making Friday part of the school weekend would have a ‘very positive’ effect on them and their children
- Several people who completed the survey suggested that longer school days, and online learning, could help to make up for any learning that might be lost if schools were closed on Fridays
Read a full summary of what petitioners told us: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/109373/default/
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