The Value of Asymmetric School Weeks: Lessons Learned from Schools in Wales

Evans, Gareth (2020) The Value of Asymmetric School Weeks: Lessons Learned from Schools in Wales. Project Report. National Academy for Educational Leadership Wales.

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Education in Wales is changing. New curriculum and assessment arrangements underpin a comprehensive reform agenda, involving but not restricted to: developments in the nation’s professional learning offer, new educational leadership provision, innovative initial teacher education programmes, and a forthcoming renewal of qualifications. This climate of change is matched by an ambition to do things differently and rethink many facets of existing practice to better meet the needs of all learners in a 21st Century environment. The value of asymmetric school weeks: Lessons learned from schools in Wales builds on these new and ambitious aspirations for Wales’ education system, and offers unique reflections on two pioneering approaches to structuring the school week. Inspired by the establishment in July 2019 of a new commission to ‘re-imagine schooling’, the report considers the impact of asymmetric arrangements on two schools – Treorchy Comprehensive School, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and Pembroke Dock Community School, in Pembrokeshire – with a view to better understanding the potential challenges and opportunities presented. The report is able to offer ‘lessons learned’ from both schools only because of the honesty, integrity and willingness of their school leaders to engage fully in the research process. The support of both Michele Thomas and Rhys Angell Jones is therefore very much appreciated, particularly during what is known to be such a challenging time for educators across Wales and the wider world. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been hugely significant and its effect on education globally, tremendously damaging. Recent events have, however, generated space for reflection on the essence of education, and the way in which our school systems will operate in the coming months and years. Asymmetric school weeks offer one such possibility for educators, and while the commissioning of this research was made well in advance of COVID-19, it appears to have taken on a new resonance given the creative adaptations many schools are having to make. At the request of the National Academy for Educational Leadership (Leadership Academy), which co-funded the research, the paper pays particular attention to the potential impact of asymmetric arrangements on teacher mental health and well-being, as well as the conditions conducive to alternative ways of working. It considers pupil and parent views, as well as those of staff, and draws a series of conclusions based on representation from key members of the school community. It identifies tangible benefits to teacher professional learning, the work-life balance of educators and increased opportunities for social interaction with family and friends. Broadly speaking, the findings presented in this paper paint a mixed picture with regards to the impact of the asymmetric week, and it is important that any school considering such changes balances carefully the costs and benefits of doing so. The contributions of all those involved in the study serve as a reminder that the asymmetric week will not work for everybody, and what works in one school is not guaranteed to work in another. What the asymmetric week offers all schools, however, is an opportunity to reconsider existing and more traditional approaches to structuring education and the benefits of creating additional professional learning opportunities for staff, particularly in the context of the new Curriculum for Wales. The report’s findings have a number of implications for schools seeking to adopt an asymmetric week, and a series of high-level recommendations are offered to those exploring asymmetric arrangements.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Childhood, Youth and Education
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 15:16
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 15:16

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