England’s schoolchildren should have shorter holidays and spend more time in the classroom, Michael Gove has said.
The Education Secretary called for longer school days and term times, warning that the current system is out of date and fit for the agricultural economy of the 19th century.
In a speech, Mr Gove said that pupils are at a “significant handicap” compared to youngsters in East Asian nations who benefit from extra tuition and support from teachers.
“We’ve noticed in Hong Kong and Singapore and other East Asian nations that expectations of mathematical knowledge or of scientific knowledge at every stage are more demanding than in this country,” he told a Spectator conference in central London.
“In order to reach those levels of achievement a higher level of effort is expected on behalf of students, parents and teachers.
“School days are longer, school holidays are shorter. The expectation is that to succeed, hard work is at the heart of everything.”
Mr Gove added: “If we look at the length of the school day in England, the length of the summer holiday and we compare it to the extra tuition and support children are receiving elsewhere then we are fighting, or running, in this global race in a way which ensures we already start with a significant handicap.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Teachers and pupils already spend longer hours in the classroom than most countries and also have some of the shortest summer holidays.
“Yet again we see the Education Secretary making policy up on the hoof with no real evidence for either the necessity for change or the benefit it brings”.