In recent months, the debate on continuous or intensive working hours in schools has been revived. The compression of school hours, which has been advancing through schools since the 1990s, has experienced a new boost with the coronavirus pandemic, since many schools have argued that it was a good solution to reduce the risk of contagion among minors. Now, the teachers want to implement it permanently.
However, a study carried out by the Center for Economic Policy of the Esade Business School points out that this compression of school hours would harm minors and their families, who would lose, together, about 8 billion euros a year because one of its members, usually women, cannot continue working after 2:00 p.m., when children leave school with this schedule.
There are no educational reasons. Experts have already been warning in recent months that there are no educational reasons to implement a continuous day in schools, and that it would only be a job improvement for teachers. The recently published report points out that there is no definitive evidence on the influence of the schedule on academic performance, but emphasizes that there are some correlational studies in which it is suggested that the split day is associated with better results.
What there is solid evidence, they continue, is of the benefits for children to spend more time in school, both school and non-school, in academic and socio-emotional terms, and that the split day, with an early lunch and a later break, is better adapted to the biorhythms of minors, which contributes positively to their health, well-being and sleep cycles.
Reduction of income. Intensive working hours, in addition, means that parents have to take care of their children three hours before, at 2:00 p.m., than they would with a split schedule, at 5:00 p.m., which harms family income in the event that the two parents work: either they hire someone to take care of them, or one of the two (mostly women, according to the study) must reduce their working day, and with it their salary, to take care of them.
The data from the research indicate that women who do not hire someone to take care of their children nor do they ask a relative to take care of them until the afternoon receive 1,850 euros less per year. Men in the same circumstances lose much less, about 970 euros per year. Thus, the report points out that intensive school hours aggravate the gender gap both within and between households.
Delve into inequality. The study also points out that these circumstances could deepen social inequalities, since families with more resources can target their children in extracurricular activities to complete that time of schooling beneficial to their educational and socio-emotional development, while the poorest do not have that possibility.
Likewise, families with more resources can choose to enroll their children in charter or private schools, where the majority day is full. In the public there is an increasing tendency to be intensive, and even in some autonomous communities, such as Andalusia, it is the official one.