Schools to trial new hours, four-day week

Queensland has introduced flexible study options for all public primary and secondary schools to begin next year, with several schools already proposing shorter school weeks.

The shake-up, which was circulated to principals on Monday, includes options to allow students to study from home one day per week or to compress school hours over fewer school days.

Under the blueprint, schools can shorten their school week or change class times depending on teacher availability or staff and student wellbeing.

While principals must ensure students who attend school outside scheduled school hours are supervised, due to transport or family issues, the policy otherwise takes effect when schools change start or finish times by more than 30 minutes.

The new rules can apply to the entire student body or specific cohorts.

Queensland Secondary Principals Association (QSPA) president Mark Breckenridge told The Courier Mail that principals had recently received the blueprint and there had been “no concerns raised … at this point”.

“I think you will find that schools will be providing more than just supervision for junior secondary students; it would be alternative learning that those teachers would be engaged in delivering,” he said.

“But that is a different conversation to senior secondary students who are already quite independent and doing additional study options through TAFE or university or they have a part-time job.”

The latest of the state’s schools to propose a potential four-day school week trial is the Queensland Academies Creative Industries (QACI), located in Queensland University of Technology’s Kelvin Grove campus.

QACI principal Mick Leigh recently notified parents of the possible change via email, according to The Courier Mail.

“This compressed week would have the same amount of contact hours and curriculum time compressed into four days,” the email read.

“The change was proposed to assist wellbeing for students and reduce cognitive stressors which lead to declining attendance and burnout.

“At QACI, the overall attendance rate is 86.9 per cent; 19.5 per cent of students have chronic absenteeism (less than 80 per cent attendance).

“Wednesday was decided upon (as the day off) with the intention to break up the cognitive load for students. A lot of VET and university courses are offered on Wednesday.

“Mondays have a lot of public holidays, Friday may not be as useful for providing access to campus.

“This day would be for independent learning.

“Students may elect to come into campus to work, study at home, undertake TAFE or tertiary courses or undertake wellbeing activities.

“Twelve teaching staff, one head of department and one executive would be on site on each Wednesday per week. This would be a rolling rotation.”

Corinda State High School, located in Brisbane’s south, recently proposed similar changes, while multiple schools in the state’s southeast have already put in place flexible school hours.

The Queensland Department of Education, QSPA, QACI and Corinda State High School have all been contacted for comment.

Originally published as Qld public schools to trial new hours, four-day week

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