Study: School Break Times Significantly Reduced

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. accommodate / əˈkɒm əˌdeɪt / (v) – to make time for something

    I made sure to have some time today to accommodate my manager’s urgent request.

  2. cut down / kʌt daʊn / (phrasal) – to reduce the amount of something

    The school decided to cut down its expenses due to low budget.

  3. well-being / ˈwɛlˈbi ɪŋ / (n) – a state associated with happiness, success, and good health

    The doctor explained that spending some free time is good for our well-being.

  4. anticipate / ænˈtɪs əˌpeɪt / (v) – to look forward to or expect something

    A lot of students are anticipating their summer vacation.

  5. autonomy / ɔˈtɒn ə mi / (n) – the power to act on one’s own

    The university has the autonomy to create its own policies.


Read the text below.

A new study found that schools have reduced break times over the past 20 years to accommodate more lesson time.

Researchers from the University College London conducted student surveys in 2017 from more than 1,000 primary and secondary schools. The researchers then compared the results of the surveys with data gathered in 1995 and 2006. Based on these data, the researchers determined that, over the last two decades, break times have been cut down by 45 and 65 minutes in most primary and secondary schools, respectively.

Following the analysis, researchers warned about how shorter break times can affect students’ well-being. Dr. Ed Baines, the study’s lead author, said that break times allow students to engage in physical activities. He also emphasized that break times give students opportunities for social interaction.

The results of the survey shed light on how students feel about the length of their break times. Findings show that most students anticipate break times. However, they think that the duration of breaks is not enough for activities, such as playing and socializing with friends. Many also complained about schools banning fun activities during their free time and withholding breaks as a form of punishment for students who behave poorly.

In their defense, school authorities said that shortened break times are a result of the growing pressure to provide quality education. One school principal also explained that break times were reduced to create balance between academic obligations and free time.

On another note, the Department for Education distanced itself from the schools’ actions. A spokeswoman admitted that schools are given the autonomy to determine the length of break times. However, she said that schools must also ensure that students get enough breaks.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that school break times should be cut down to accommodate more lesson time? Why or why not?
• Aside from affecting students’ physical and social development, what are other possible effects of shorter school break times (e.g. burnout, stress)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think policies regarding students’ well-being should be the same across all schools? Why or why not?
• If you were to create a policy to promote students’ well-being, what would it be? Discuss.