Earlier start on the cards for Sunderland schoolchildren

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THE bell is set to ring early for students at one of Sunderland’s largest secondary schools, with plans to change start and finish times.

St Aidan’s RC School, in Ashbrooke, is proposing to alter the day so students start earlier and finish at 2.30pm.

After consultations with staff, the governing body of the Willow Bank Road school agreed to a proposal by the leadership team to introduce new times from September.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Stephen Hammond, said: “We believe the revised structure will result in a more effective working day and better enable us to meet the needs of our students.

“Essentially, we want to condense the formal school day and lunchbreak to allow students greater access to curriculum enrichment and sports activities while also creating time for staff to engage in professional development to enhance teaching and learning.”

Under the plans, the school day would begin at 8.30am, children would get just 30 minutes for lunch and then finish at 2.30pm.

Mr Hammond said the majority of teaching time would take place earlier in the day when staff believe students are most receptive to learning, and lunch would be divided into three sittings.

In the letter to parents, Mr Hammond added: “Our expectation is that enrichment opportunities, sporting activities, homework clubs etc. will be run as an extension to the school day. There is no expectation that students will need to leave the school this early.”

The headteacher said the earlier finish would also reduce the number of days when students have to travel home in the dark.

Nicola Leatherbarrow, of Hendon, whose son Sam is in his first year at St Aidan’s, said: “I think finishing at 2.30pm is a great idea.

“It means Sam will be able to stay on for homework club and take part in more after-school activities but not have to make his way home in the dark.

“And staggering the times the schools finish means the roads will be less busy too.”

Other parents were not so enthusiastic about the changes.

One father, whose son attends the school, said: “It’s all very well letting them out early but both my wife and I work, so we’ll not be at home when he arrives back, or for several hours after that.”