Shorter school break times are bad for pupils says new study

Last updated at 05:14
Kids playing at brea time.Getty Images

Shorter school break times are having a negative impact on pupil wellbeing says a new study.

According to University College London (UCL), school breaks are shorter then they were 20 years ago, giving children fewer opportunities to socialise, make friends and exercise.

Researchers studied 1,133 schools between 1995 and 2017.

They found primary school children in 2017 had 45 minutes less break time per week than in 1995 and secondary school breaks were 65 minutes shorter.

Why are school breaks important?

The report from UCL says breaks are important for lots of reasons.

Dr Ed Baines, the report's author, said: "Not only are break times an opportunity for children to get physical exercise - an issue of particular concern given the rise in obesity, but they provide valuable time to make friends and to develop important social skills - experiences that are not necessarily learned or taught in formal lessons."

Researchers also found there had been an almost "virtual elimination" of afternoon breaks, with just 15% of primary school children, and just over half (54%) of secondary school pupils having an afternoon break.

Kids at break time.Getty Images

Ed and his team want schools to take a look at the amount of time they allow for breaks and stop cutting them further.

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said school timetables are "bursting at the seams" because of pressure to prepare children for high-stakes tests and exams.

He added: "It is therefore no surprise that school break times are shorter than they were 20 years ago."