Plan to end the 9am to 3pm school day in NSW

Some schools have already adopted changed school hours, including Merrylands East Public, which operates from 8am to 1.15pm, with playground supervision from 7.30am. It has a recess break and no lunch break but offers the same amount of teaching time as all public schools.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the “status quo is not always the best approach” when it comes to education.

He said schools needed to modernise to adjust to the 21st century, where female workforce participation was increasing and the traditional school day no longer suited all families.

“This is an opportunity for us to rethink how our students learn and how we can make life easier for many working parents,” Mr Perrottet said.

“This project will allow us to establish a range of alternative make-ups of the school day that work.”

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the plan would allow schools to work with their local community to identify opportunities to provide flexibility.

Ms Mitchell said it would also improve educational outcomes, which have been flatlining or slipping particularly in international primary school maths.

“The reality is that the traditional school day, like the 9 to 5 workday, is a 20th century concept which may not always be relevant for schools in the 21st century,” Ms Mitchell said.

“This project is an opportunity to identify measures which remove pressure from parents and carers and improve the educational outcomes for students by being flexible with school hours, and then see how they might be scaled to similar schools.”

The project will not impact standard lessons with any changes undertaken in consultation with the school’s community, Ms Mitchell said. The trials will start next year.

Ms Mitchell said the government had already created an extra 10,000 before and after school places, which was a 2019 election commitment.

“This process included surveying parents and carers which has provided us with a better understanding of the work requirements of families and how schools can support them and our students’ educational outcomes,” Ms Mitchell said.

The government will provide funding in the budget for the project, alongside other key education initiatives such as money for 44 new and upgraded school projects including new primary schools in Gregory Hills, in south-west Sydney and Westmead.

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