Community divided over flexible school hours in Southern Downs

Are flexible school hours welcome or unwelcome in the Southern Downs?

The Southern Downs community is split over the introduction of flexible study options by the Queensland State Government.

The move, which aims to provide more freedom for students and teachers, has been met with mixed opinions and calls for further consultation.

Under the new policy announced on 6 November, all public primary and secondary schools in Queensland will have the option to implement flexible study arrangements from the next academic year.

This includes the possibility of shorter school weeks, allowing students to study from home one day per week or compressing school hours over fewer days.

Already, schools like Teelba State School on the Darling Downs have embraced the concept, implementing a nine-day fortnight. Other schools in the Southern Downs region have been given the opportunity to follow suit and adapt their school hours accordingly.

However, Warwick Today and Stanthorpe Today conducted a poll on Facebook to gauge community sentiment towards this potential change.

Out of the respondents, 62 per cent expressed their preference for sticking to the traditional five-day school week, while 13 per cent supported the idea of a four-day school week as beneficial for students and teachers.

It is said that short weeks would improve student well-being by reducing cognitive stressors that lead to declining attendance and burnout. This change would benefit both students and teachers by limiting burnout and reducing strain in the educational environment.

However, Minister for Education, Grace Grace, emphasised that the updated policy was not a green light for an automatic four-day school week. Instead, she highlighted that the aim is to encourage schools to explore flexibility options after comprehensive community consultation.

The division within the Southern Downs community highlights the need for further dialogue and engagement between parents, teachers, school administrations, and the government.

It is imperative to ensure that any changes made prioritise the well-being and educational outcomes of students, while also addressing the concerns of teachers and families.