News | Published May 11 2019

School children today have less breaktime than two decades ago

School breaks have become shorter in the past two decades, as teachers try to pack more lessons during the day, according to a long-term study.

The study looked at questionnaires from 993 primary schools and 199 secondary schools, as well as pupil surveys.

In Britain, children have a break of less than 45 minutes per week compared to 25 years ago.

In that same time, secondary school students lost 65 minutes on average, and afternoon breaks are approaching "virtual elimination".

In order to give schools "autonomy" and move away from the older, more civil service-like model, the government allowed school leaders to make decisions about the structure and timetables of their school days.

The study also showed that pupils are unhappy with this trend, with many complaining about prohibited play activities and missing out on lunch, often due to forms of collective punishment.

The time spent by children and teenagers engaging in social life shows signs of decrease, with fewer students reporting that they visited a friend's house after school.

The same study also shows that playing video games and watching TV has overtaken spending time with friends as the most popular activity after school.

Many complain that this, along with exam pressures, is limiting the social and emotional lives of children.

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Authored by

Thomas Wilson
Political Editor
May 11 2019

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