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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
School plan for 364-day opening
Teacher with pupils
Pupils could be taught in smaller groups, Dr Mortimer says
A school is to consult teachers and parents on the idea of opening for lessons 364 days a year.

Teaching would take place throughout the year - even on weekends - but not everyone would be in at the same time.

Paul Mortimer, who is a government adviser and in charge of two Rochdale schools, says he wants to have a school of the 21st Century, not the 19th.

The school would be used more by the community and parents and teachers could take off-peak holidays, he said.

Dr Mortimer plans to rebuild Hollingworth High School in Rochdale, one of the two schools where he is chief executive.

If teachers and parents sign up to his ideas, he says the school will be built to two-thirds of its present size, because fewer pupils would be in at any one time.

"We need a school for the 21st Century, not the 19th - based on being open from nine until four," he told the BBC News website.

"Children and teachers would still only be in school for the statutory number of days - 190 - but they won't be on the same timetable."

Weekend working

There would be three timetables, followed by different groups, which would be given out before the end of the previous academic year.

Children would be taught in eight mixed-year groups, so their terms and holidays would fall at different times.

Consultation will take place later this term and Dr Mortimer says the scheme will only go ahead with the support of teachers and the community.

"Not all of my staff are 100% behind it but many are, " he said.

"And if they don't like it, we won't change."

But he believes that for some people who work part-time the idea of working just weekends would be attractive.

And he thinks that children will benefit because staggering the time-table would mean they could be taught in smaller groups.

The school would be a focal point of the community, like a modern extension of the good old family
Paul Mortimer

"It would meet the needs of children and families, given the changes in people's working lives and it would use extended schools for the good of the community.

"The school would be a focal point of the community, like a modern extension of the good old family, especially as many parents are single parents."

Activities at the school would not always be of the usual teacher-pupil variety, he said.

"They won't necessarily always be in the classroom. Part of the curriculum could involve families engaging in activities in the sports hall."

Paul Mortimer, who is an adviser to the innovation unit at the Department for Education and Skills, has already introduced a flexible timetable at the school.

Lessons start earlier than other schools but finish at 1330 on Thursdays and Fridays.

The Secondary Heads Association said the idea was an interesting one which schools might wish to consider as they became more extended into the community.

But the National Union of Teachers said it was a strange idea, which would require the employment of more teachers and would put "enormous pressure" on both teachers and children.

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