Changes to the School Day Q&A

Questions and answers about the proposed changes to the school day

Will the start time for school change?

No, there are no plans to change the start time for the school day. Our expected arrival time is 8.25am, for a start at 8.30am.

Many schools start at the same time as we do. A number of our students arrive at 7.45am when we open, and some wait outside beforehand.

What time will all children finish school?

Adopting the proposal would mean that all students finish at the same time, 2.50pm, on all the days of the week.

Would extending school hours and adopting a later finish time be a benefit to all students?

No, many parents and students would be opposed to a later finish time. The curriculum has been designed so that the syllabus can be delivered in the time allocated. Additionally, this would present significant problems for the school in terms of staffing, which has to be reconciled with the school’s budget.

If I do not want my child to leave school at this earlier time, can they stay in school for longer?

Yes, students may remain in school after the usual finish time, either at after school clubs or working supervised in the library until 4.30pm.

How does the change affect use of the canteen at lunchtime?

At present most of our students have eaten lunch by 1.00pm, thirty minutes after the start of lunchtime. Adopting the new proposals will involve implementing a split lunchtime. Under the new plans, each lunch sitting will be allowed 40 minutes. This is more than adequate for students to eat in comfort. Till capacity and seating will both be increased this summer.  

Is there enough time for students to relax at break and lunch times?

Experience shows that many students feel restless towards the end of lunchtime, and would welcome an earlier start to the afternoon, especially where this is linked to an earlier finish time.

How will this change affect lunchtime clubs and activities?

Lunchtime groups, intervention sessions and clubs will be encouraged, and students attending them will be given an early lunch pass to enable them to take part. We anticipate that take-up of clubs and activities will increase. The faster turnover in the canteen will mean less time spent queueing and allow for more social time, for those not taking part in activities, during the lunch break.  

How does this affect after school clubs and activities?

Adopting the proposal allows us to offer a wider range of after school clubs. Parents will be able to read information about these on the school website.

How does this affect students’ after school journeys home?

The school has been engaged in a long running campaign over several years with TfL, Go-Ahead London and government to increase bus capacity after school, with only limited success. Adopting the proposal will mean students leave school at a time when they do not have to compete with students at nearby schools for access to public transport. This will be a significant benefit ensuring students get home faster and more safely.

Is this change in line with other schools? / Will the early finish mean students are travelling home at the same time as primary age students?

The proposed finish time is one used by many schools elsewhere. Local primary age children finishing at, or near, the same time is not envisaged as a problem. There is an expectation that most secondary age children will travel to and from school independently, so it is not anticipated that this will cause family difficulties. Where parents do particularly wish to drive students home from school, and school end times coincide, parents are asked to manage the issue by arranging a safe pick-up point nearby so that older children can meet them there. Some Sutton schools finish very early on one day of the week. We have experimented with a once-a week early finish but we believe that consistency is of more benefit, and so these proposals mean finishing at the same time every day.

How will this change affect PE lessons and practical subjects?

Many schools have one-hour lessons without any detriment to the teaching of PE. For practical subjects, one hour lessons are sufficient. There will not be any double lessons under the new proposals. Recent observation and measurement shows that students learn more in two lessons of 50 minutes than they do in a double lesson on 1 hour and 40 minutes. This leads to the conclusion that lessons lasting one hour would be more productive than double lessons of 2 hours’ duration. Lesson length was not part of the consultation; it was about the earlier finish time to the school day.

Isn’t it true that double lessons are beneficial for some subjects?

Please see above.

Will there be reduced curriculum time as a result of these proposals?

No, subjects will be allocated the same amount of curriculum time overall. There will not be any reduction in the amount of contact time between students and teachers.

Will more able students benefit from this change?

We plan to start offering extension classes to stretch the more able students after the usual school finish time. Additionally Year 7 Gifted and Talented student programmes will begin soon for Year 7 students.

Will tutor time be affected by the changes?

Tutor time allocated under the new proposals will be 20 minutes a day. Feedback from earlier this year demonstrates that a reduction in tutor time was seen as beneficial by students and staff. Tutors will also be able to spend more time at the end of the day supporting students with individual issues.

Would it be a good idea for students to have an afternoon break time?

It is not usual, or necessary, for students of secondary age to have a break in the afternoon.

Are the changes in line with mandatory legal requirements for secondary schools?

Yes, completely.

How will this change affect our students with SEND?

For Horizon students, some parents have expressed dismay at the reduction in social time as a result of the proposals. There are changes being planned to the Horizon curriculum and timetable to mitigate this. The Horizon timetable is slightly more flexible than that in the mainstream, and Horizon students do benefit from an earlier lunchtime than others currently. Students with SEND often struggle with double lessons, and the change will benefit them in this way. At the end of the day, tutors will have more time to support students. The school has an ongoing commitment to the education of students with SEND, and absolutely no intention to disadvantage them in any way by adopting the proposed changes.

Does this change align our school day timings with our sister school, Cheam High?

Yes, Cheam High School have the same times as we are proposing in this consultation.

Will this change be an educational benefit to students?

Yes, this change has been conceived and planned as a benefit to students’ overall education.

How will homework be affected?

Some parents have expressed doubt that their child will use additional time for homework. The school has an ongoing commitment to regular homework, which is used to consolidate and check learning, to prepare for lessons and as a time management skill for students. There is an expectation that all students will be set relevant homework. The quantity and quality of homework is monitored in school. Students may choose to do their homework at Homework club after school instead of at home, and the club will be open to all students.