Today host Karl Stefanovic shuts down flexible high school hours

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The concept of adopting shorter school weeks for improved productivity and mental health of both students and teachers has been brutally shut down by Today host Karl Stefanovic.

Stefanovic dismissed the idea after changes adopted to reduce face-to-face learning by a host of Queensland schools were discussed on the Friday morning’s program.

Former principal Tracy Tully along with child psychologist Andrew Greenfield thrust their support behind the changes, citing a host of productivity and mental health benefits.

Stefanovic blasted the idea, telling viewers: “It ain’t popular with me that’s for sure.”

“[I’m not going to] wrap my kids in cotton wool, they can stay at school for more hours,” he said.

“I’m not leaving work to go pick the kids up on a Friday afternoon.”

The Gold Coast’s Varsity College’s secondary campus allows students to finish at 12.45pm every Friday, giving them the option to head home or remain on grounds to study.

Karl Stefanovic said he didn’t agree with changes to standard school hours. Picture: NineKarl Stefanovic said he didn’t agree with changes to standard school hours. Picture: Nine

A similar policy is in place at the Gold Coast’s Palm Beach Currumbin State High School, where students can leave at lunch time on Mondays/

On the Sunshine Coast at Mountain Creek State High School, students operate around a split shift timetable that allows senior students and junior students a few hours each with the school to themselves.

Year 10-12 students start at 7.30am and finish at 12:55pm, while Years 7-9 arrive at 10.25am and leave at 4.05.

Sunshine Beach State High School students also work on a split shift schedule, with senior students arriving at 8.20am and leaving at 1.40pm every day, with the option to attend tutorials until 2.50pm if they choose.

Junior students meanwhile start at 8.50am and leave at 2.50pm.

Students at The Gap State High School from term one were given a 1.50pm finish every Monday, with the option to go home or remain on grounds to study.

A trial last year was reportedly effective in giving teachers extra time to prepare lessons and subsequently improve student outcomes.

Why has it not been rolled out broadly?

Former principal Tracy Tully said logistical considerations had a lot to do with why alternative schooling schedules were not more broadly used, particularly when it came to pick-ups and drop-offs.

“The smaller schools don’t have the physical resources and the Department of Transport is a big issue with the buses, so the consultation there would take a long time and its possibly almost impossible to rearrange those buses on all their circuits,” Ms Tully said.

Research has backed up the benefits of reduced face-to-face learning. Picture: CanvaResearch has backed up the benefits of reduced face-to-face learning. Picture: Canva

Mr Greenfield expressed his support for an alternative approach to schooling hours, arguing it was likely to be more doable for older students.

“I think from a mental health perfective it would be certainly advantageous for the older kids because I know what it’s like with the amount of work that they have to do,” he told the program.

“So I think having a breather, just to not necessarily be working all the time and having some study periods, from a mental health perspective I think that could be massive.”

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