Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) meet children at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Primary School in Brixton in London
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) meet children at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Primary School in Brixton in LondonReuters

British teachers and educational resources are already stretched so it comes as no surprise that Conservative MP Paul Kirkby's comments, that schools should provide 45 hours of education per week, were met with widespread derision from the public.

As part of what seems like constant chopping and changing over how our children should be educated, Kirkby, Prime Minister David Cameron's former head of policy development, posted on a personal blog about how spending more time in school can be "a real game changer in education".

His comments mirror what Michael Gove suggest in April last year.

The British education system is already under the stress of continually revised curriculum programmes, standards, under-funding, limited resources, and over-worked teachers. The complexity of how to solve our educational ills goes far beyond adding a few extra hours to the school day.

We have got to address how these extra hours would be funded, what is expected from staff and pupils and of course how a longer day would be broken up into traditional academia as well as activities.

It is not as simple as enforcing longer hours and expecting to turn out near 100% straight A students.

However, despite this, the chatterati has already condemned longer hours schooling as a production line for 'robots,' insinuating that all children who go to school for a longer length of time will turn out with identikit personalities and hobbies.

They have also shouted from the sidelines that we could turn out like South Korea, which has longer days, higher results, but depressingly high suicide rates.

The difference is, with any budget - whether with time or money - expectations and actions have to be managed well.

As someone who has actually experienced long school hours, compared to the average school, it isn't as horrific as it sounds.


While I am aware this is just an anecdotal piece over how longer hours can actually bear happy, functioning adults with their own personalities, it is by no way saying that it can cure all of the British education systems ills.

I do think it is imperative, however, that someone who has actually experienced longer school hours gets to defend themselves from the barrage of distaste and assumptions on what the by-product could be over spending a longer period of time in the educational bricks and mortar.

From the age of 12, I went to school from around 0800 and finished between 1830 to 2000, depending on whether I stayed for 'prep', which was a study period for getting your homework done.

While many have remarked that such schooling hours would be like a 'boot camp', they wouldn't be far off considering I went to a military school, but importantly, it is not as negative as the description suggests.

From 0800 GMT until 1530, we had regular school hours, which is the normal curriculum mix of academia, physical education, two short breaks and a break.

After walking back from class, we would have an activity every day for one to two hours of our choosing, which could be anything from taking drama classes, being in a sports team, shooting, taking music lessons or even extra study groups in subjects if you so wish.

The activity hours were compulsory but the activity itself was entirely up to you.

Following that, after a short break, you could go to dinner in the hall or not, depending if you were going home that evening, and then stay for 'prep'.

On Saturdays, we were able to go into school until 1200 if we needed help in the core subjects – English, maths, science and languages.


As said before, longer schooling hours is not an automatic cure for the systemic issues, but if the time is spent wisely, then it can be a possible educational 'game changer', as Kirkby said.

During my time in a longer schooling hour environment, far from being a mass produced robot that many have suggested, I was fully able to explore what I was good at, what I was bad at, where I could improve, and ultimately what I enjoyed doing.

On top of that, my parents which were working full-time, also didn't have to freak out about how I was to get home or who would pick me up from school as my day also fitted in with theirs.

With the extra time dedicated to keeping me in school, I had the luxury of being continually active in lots of fields, furthered myself in activities that I truly enjoyed, or used the time to improve on subjects I was struggling with.

With nearly 100 activities that I was able to choose from, finishing school at 1545 didn't mean changing out of uniform and procrastinating over homework until I forgot or couldn't be bothered to do it.

It meant I got to do so many other things that wouldn't have necessarily been offered to me if I was to seek it out off my own adolescent back.

I got to be in around five sports team, got to play several instruments and when I was struggling with my arch-nemesis of a subject (FYI – chemistry), I was able to spend extra time with a teacher that was around to at least pass.

By the time most kids are being coerced by parents to stop watching TV and finish their homework I had already finished most of mine and had headed home to have a free evening to do what I wanted and spend time with my family.

Above all, I got grow, learn and develop on my own but with the helping hand and structure that should be given to children, so by the time I reached sixth form and ultimately university, I felt truly certain of the path I wanted to take.

Now, I am not saying everyone at my school would have had the same experience, but the opposition to longer schooling hours shouldn't also immediately tar everyone with the same brush by saying that staying longer in school will somehow undo the fabric of society.