Review Of The Length Of The School Year And School Day

  • Wyatt Creech
Education

Education Minister Wyatt Creech today announced a full review of the length of the school year and school day.

The review decision follows full consideration of applications from primary schools for their day to be lengthened and their year to be shortened to match that applying to secondary schools.

"There will be a limited number of interim approvals - thirty-nine primary schools in total - for 1999. These schools clearly met the needs of local areas and had very widespread parent and community support. Other applications have been put on hold pending a full review of the
matter.

"A working party of five people with appropriate expertise will be set up to conduct the review. Cabinet has already decided to appoint former educationalist and MP Margaret Austin to head the review team.

"The working party will consider the range of issues associated with this topic, including what is required to deliver the modern curriculum as we move into the 21st Century," Mr Creech said.

At present, primary and intermediate schools are required to be open for instruction for 394 half days each year, and secondary and composite schools for 380 half days. Secondary and composite schools have a longer school day.

Late last year expressions of interest were sought from schools wanting to line up the primary and secondary school year and day. 568 primary schools applied. However most of them, failed to meet requirements such as having at least 75% support from parents and caregivers.

"The level of response shows that clearly there is an issue to be answered," Mr Creech said.

"Many parents and schools throughout the country have differing needs. I want a thorough examination of what can be done to suit as many of those needs as possible, while still retaining a proper focus on the prime business of achieving high educational results," Mr Creech said.

The review panel would identify and analyse the issues early in 1999. A Discussion Document will be issued to encourage full public consultation. Decisions and public announcements would be made following the completion of the review.

"Decisions about term dates and times not only have a huge impact on educational outcomes for students; they also have a critical impact on local communities, families and schools. This means that we need to undergo a thorough consultation before significant change is contemplated," Mr Creech said.