School Hours Around the World: Who Has the Longest or Shortest Day?

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Updated | 3 min read


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  • Shane McMillan

    One of the challenges when posting a comparison is to show how many hours annually students are exposed to face-to-face teaching. In NSW Primary (Department of Education) it is about 950 hours, over 193-198 teaching days. In the US, the day might be longer, but many districts are only at school for 180 teaching days. And if the French system has an 8 hour day, but only 36 weeks, it is probably very similar to NSW. The huge amount of emotion connected to this issue, from teachers worried about their personal circumstances, to parents worried about how to get their children up at 3am to get to school by 7am are all legitimate, but the whole system needs reviewing to determine if the modern education system is any longer fit for purpose. Are we doing children a disservice having them at school 5 days in a row? Do they benefit from only moving or progressing based on chronological age, rather than skills or concept mastery? What should be the role of specialist teachers, or the use of specialist activities at different times of the day e.g. sports coaching at 3pm, gardening, breakfast club at 7am…what is the role of the modern institutional educational facility? If learning from home has shown anything in the past two years, it is that some children thrived, some did not. The longstanding system, disrupted by school closure, was embraced by some, in ways that existing system did not benefit them. If we can remove the emotion from this debate and have a forensic investigation about the role of education and production of learning, then I think we can find out some surprising things.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)

      Thanks, Shane! Some fantastic points you raise. It's great to have a discussion about this as educators, so I appreciate your thought-out response.

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