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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.