Today (1st November 2012), the Sun ran a story that a primary school outraged parents at the school by closing early once per week so that teachers can engage in marking and planning:
From the article, it would appear that the school have put all of the teachers’ statutory planning, preparation and administration time in to one slot in the week, and not cut the amount of teaching time.
If this time is being used for collaborative lesson planning, discussion about assessment, and reviewing peer-led lesson observations then this could be a fantastic way of raising the quality of teaching and learning in the school. Indeed, some of the best schools in the country use a similar approach, such as the outstanding Cramlington Learning Village in Northumberland.
International research strongly supports this approach – the most effective way to improve the quality of teaching is to allow teachers to work together to plan, observe and evaluate their lessons with occasional guidance from external experts. This school has taken a brave move that could raise teaching standards, although the outcry would suggest that parents haven’t fully understood the benefits for their children and it may well have led some inconvenience for them. It would be interesting to know if the school has laid on any activities to keep pupils in school in case their parents are not able to pick them up earlier. Some schools have hired sports coordinators to run extra PE and Games activities for their younger pupils during these staff planning periods.