Should schools take on the four-day workweek too? | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 15, 2024

If you follow The Optimist Daily, you’ll notice that there’s been growing interest in the benefits of shortening our workweeks from the conventional five days to four—so why shouldn’t school children adopt it, too?

The Forest Gate community school in Newham, London already has three years of four-and-a-half-day weeks under its belt. Students and staff alike are familiar with the positive energy of the end of a Friday lunch that allows them to start their weekends and leisure a few hours earlier. 

While most of the UK does not adhere to the four-and-a-half-day week, there seem to be good reasons to cut down. Studies have indicated that Britain’s overworked teaching staff are prone to burnout, with one poll by Survation suggesting that as many as two-thirds of teachers feel they are on the brink of a breaking point.

The results of a shortened school week

On the other hand, after adopting the shortened week, The Forest Gate community school boasts desirable results: improved wellbeing, better academic achievements, and more satisfied staff.

Simon Elliot, headteacher and CEO of the Community Schools Trust (CST), the body that manages Forest Gate community school, started his mission to create a “happier, more productive” environment in 2019 when he declared Friday a half-day.

To ensure that students wouldn’t fall behind the rest of the population, Friday afternoon lessons were integrated into the preceding days.

Since the change was made, staff have had more time for leisure activities, pursuing their interests and hobbies, training, and spending time with their children. Students are pleased with the opportunity to catch up with friends and focus on homework and have achieved better grades because of it. The results have been so encouraging that forest Gate is now considering reducing its week from four-and-a-half to just four days.

Since the shortened workweek has proved a positive change, CST has rolled it out to other schools under its management. Elliott’s mission was further supported by a report published by think tank Autonomy titled “A Four-Day Week for Schools,” which revealed that 75 percent of teachers supported a 32-hour workweek, with 61 percent believing that it would improve their teaching.

What about childcare?

Students of families who cannot provide childcare can use the school’s gym or take part in supervised sports, relieving any extra stress that households might have come across because of this schedule.

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