Debate of the week: All work and no play

by Emily

Teachers, tutors and educational campaigners have expressed alarm at today's announcement that a state school with a 10 hour working day is to be piloted in the UK.

Based on a charter school programme in America, the new academy will open at 7.30am and run until 5pm or 5.30pm to "maximise opportunities for learning". The philosophy behind the programme, which is being piloted by the Sutton Trust, is honourable: the idea is to give children from deprived areas the same educational opportunities as those whose parents can afford to send them to private schools or pay for private tutors.

However, our view at First Tutors is that quality, rather than quantity, is the key issue. Independent and public schools have smaller class sizes, more 1-to-1 attention and pay top dollar for the best teachers; furthermore parents are often in a position to pay for home tuition if a child needs extra help with a particular subject.

Many state schools are over-populated and under-funded and the pupils get little - if any - individual attention. We do not believe children simply need longer working days; rather, they need the same quality of education that is available in the independent sector.

We also believe that children benefit from a well-rounded education, rich with extra-curricular activities. If they're at school for 10 hours a day, what opportunities will they have to learn instruments, join the Scouts or simply play with their friends?