Fourteen schools in Cymru will trial providing additional hours this academic year, with up to £2m of funding available to support the scheme, Education and Welsh Language Minister Jeremy Miles has announced.
The primary and secondary schools trialling the additional time will be funded to provide an extra five hours of activities each week for groups of learners, with sessions such as art, music and sport, as well as core academic sessions.
The school day trials will be focused on supporting disadvantaged pupils and schools particularly affected during the pandemic. The plans draw on international models and proposals made by the Education Policy Institute.
This work will be carried out in collaboration with the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group, as part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Headteachers will decide on how and what is delivered in each school during the trial period, which is due to start in the spring term and run for up to 10 weeks. Local needs will be taken into consideration and the funding provided for the trial will give schools the discretion to outsource the running of the additional sessions if needed, or to adapt existing activities such as after school clubs.
The Minister also confirmed that over the coming months discussions will take place with young people and their families, education staff, and businesses to seek their views on potentially reforming school term dates.
Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said: “We are committed to reducing educational inequalities and improving learner and staff well-being.
“We know that supporting learners to benefit from an extended range of activities, including arts and sports as well as social activities and academic programmes, can be good for attainment, well-being and wider relationships.
“We are funding trial schools so that they can provide exciting activities around the school day, which can develop personal skills and resilience which will also impact on academic attainment. We will be working closely with schools and local authorities to evaluate the impact on learners and on staff.
“Over the coming months I’ll also be talking to young people, education staff, families and people working beyond the sector such as tourism and public services, to seek their views on reforming the school year.
“Reforming the school year could help to narrow the disruption caused by the long summer holiday on learners, narrow educational inequalities and to support learner and staff well-being.”