Pilot scheme to extend school day at Sheffield secondary begins

A Sheffield school is piloting a new extended school to provide an additional six weeks of ‘educational opportunities’ to students.

By Alana Roberts
Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 1:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 5:24 pm
Students at Firth Park Academy taking part in a dance lesson
Students at Firth Park Academy taking part in a dance lesson

The extended school day at Firth Park Academy, in Shiregreen, is compulsory for students in Year 7s and 11, with Years 8 to 10 also able to join in the enrichment opportunities.

Year 11 students receive an extra hour of teaching every single day while for Year 7s the additional hour focuses on enrichment, with a broad and rich timetable of activities on offer between 3pm and 4pm each day.

Throughout the week Year 7 pupils are given the opportunity to take part in five extra enrichment classes with everything from street dance and ceramics to animal care and musical theatre, meaning they will benefit from around 190 additional hours of learning each academic year.

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A Firth Park student and teacher battle in a chess game

All students also take part in one or two independent study clubs where they can complete homework with the support of a teacher.

The schools hope this will support parents and help reduce the pressure of working at home, reducing stress for students at a time when their mental wellbeing is recognised as being more important than ever.

Those who are below the expected standard in English and Maths are also given a catch-up class in a small group to help them improve.

Principal Dean Jones said: “We were so pleased to be chosen by our trust Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) to pilot an Extended School Day for the benefit of our students. The research we completed beforehand highlighted how an extended day can improve academic achievement, attendance, behaviour, relationships between students, their fellow students and teachers.

“It is fantastic to see after just one half-term how true this is. I love walking around school after 3pm to feel how studious the classrooms are, see sports taking place, teachers helping students with homework and hearing music and dance groups. Most importantly, seeing students leave at 4pm with a smile from the activity they have enjoyed.”

Students not in Years 7 or 11 can choose two or three activities ranging from creative subjects, languages, sport and special interests like chess, cooking and pottery.

Firth Park Academy is also running Saturday school for Year 11 students which sees around 80 students studying English and Maths between 9.30am to 12pm.