Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Double-shift school just makes sense

School properties are underutilised. During the morning, children are - for the most part - in classrooms and there may be some use of sports fields and other facilities for physical education lessons. From 12h30 to 14h00 classes end (depending on the grade) and, I would presume, the majority of the students go home. Some stay behind for after-school sport and cultural activities.

Image from

Class sizes are upwards of 28 to 40 (certainly in the government system) and as such teachers and space are burdened. The bigger the class, the slower the progress through the learning material - this holds true for running, hiking, biking, paddling... The bigger the group, the slower the group moves overall.

From what I have seen of Kyla and Ruben's school work over the past three years (currently grades 8 and 5 respectively), they don't cover that much in a year and learning would certainly be far more effective with smaller class numbers and a slightly shortened day to accommodate the double shift.

Putting schools on shifts is not a new concept. Double-shift schools maximise the use of resources, reduce overcrowding and accommodate more children overall. Fewer new school properties and all that these entail would need to be built.

Shift variations include having morning and afternoon classes or having full-day school on alternate days (the latter makes life more difficult for parents with children not at school at all on alternate days).

One property could host a primary school in the mornings and a high school in the afternoons, or, probably more feasible, is one school in the morning and a completely different school with its own headmaster and teachers in the afternoon. This would be more practical as teachers of the same grade could share the same classrooms (they could even work together to share material and classroom decorations too).

Whether a school has 100 children or 1000 children, the costs for maintaining buildings and facilities is the same. The property may as well be put to maximum use.

Driving past our schools in Parys in the afternoons and school holidays, I'm always disappointed to see the lack of use of facilities as I rarely see children out and about; and during the holidays - around three months a year! - there is no one on school properties at all!

Why are our schools not doing shifts? I have no idea. It doesn't make sense to me that they are not.

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