Longer school day 'may help pupils'

Braintree and Witham Times: Labour's education spokesman Stephen Twigg says the school day should be extended Labour's education spokesman Stephen Twigg says the school day should be extended

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has suggested that lengthening the school day may be a good way of preparing youngsters for the world of work.

Speaking at the North of England Education Conference, Mr Twigg said a number of schools had taken up the initiative and it appeared to have positive results.

He said he was keen to explore school-led initiatives as he announced a review into education and the world of work.

Labour's School to Work review will take evidence from teachers, parents, businesses and universities, and will look at international best practice to consider how "we maintain our economic competitiveness, and support future growth".

He referred to a recent study by the CBI which revealed that employers believe the school to work transition is not working. The research found that of employers surveyed, the proportion of their workforce that left school at 16 that was "poorly or very poorly prepared for the work place" was just under a third.

"In lengthening the school day, young people are getting a better perspective of the expectations upon them following the transition from school to the workplace," he told delegates in Leeds. "I am interested in exploring school-led initiatives such as this."

Picking up on the issue in a question and answer session he did not specify particular hours for schools to adopt, but suggested a "later finish rather than an early start may be a sensible option".

Mr Twigg, who was appointed shadow education secretary in October last year, referred to his own learning experience and an inspirational teacher called Mr Coward who pushed him to become the first person from Southgate Comprehensive to get into Oxford.

He said the experience had made him "passionate" about more young people from state schools going to the country's top universities.

"Although universities should do more, it is a cop out to think it is all the fault of elitist dons blocking poor kids," he said. "State schools must be more ambitious for their pupils."

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