The former Minister for Education and Skills asked the PPIW to convene a workshop to bring together a select group of experts with senior Welsh Government representatives to discuss asymmetric schools weeks.
An asymmetric school week includes various start and finish times with some longer days and some shorter days with coordinated pupil free time. The most common asymmetric school week structure comprises four longer days and a short half day, but other patterns are also used. It does not necessarily result in a change in the total hours of instructional time.
The Welsh Government are committed to improving school attainment and experiences. In the coming five years, the education system in Wales will undergo a significant programme of reform intended to fundamentally change the way that it operates. This will be against a back drop of further austerity which, even if education budgets are protected, will put a strain on the education system. As a result it is the perfect time to explore how Wales can use its teaching workforce and instructional school time most effectively. Positive reports of the implementation of asymmetric school weeks in several Scottish local authorities suggest that the approach is worth exploring in Wales.
Specifically, the former Minister was interested to understand:
1. the benefits and concerns associated with asymmetric school weeks;
2. examples of asymmetric school weeks and how effective they have been in achieving the objectives they were designed for; and
3. alternative strategies for freeing up teacher time for school improvement activities and continuing professional development (CPD) that contribute to breaking the link between poverty and attainment and improving enrichment.
The workshop was attended by practitioners and academics plus representatives from Parents Want A Say, Unions, Governors Wales, the WLGA and Welsh Government. A write up of the workshop is due to be published this summer.