What Time Does Secondary School Start and Finish in the UK?

In General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Every secondary school starts and finishes at slightly different times, depending on how that specific school structures the day. For instance, revision sessions, support groups, clubs, more timetabled lessons etc. will mean that different students will have longer or shorter school days; however, the school day for students doesn’t differ to a great extent. The questions that arise when thinking about secondary school are: what time does secondary school start/finish? What does the school day consist of? How long are breaks/lunches? Which activities are available at secondary school? This article seeks to appease any concerns you have regarding what occurs during the school day and what secondary school has to offer. 

Ultimately, the timings, for every secondary school differs, so it’s difficult to conclude a specific time; however, on average the school day lasts for 5-6 hours. The average school day starts at around 8/9 and then ends at 3/4. The typical secondary school day starts at 8.30 and ends at 3.30; however, this differs depending on school and now differs more widely due do COVID, so different year groups within the same school can have different starting and ending times, in order to help minimise the risk of COVID transmissions.  

The above will give you a brief overview however, reading the full article will allow you to familiarise yourself with what the school day consists of and the impact that COVID has had. 

What Time Does Secondary School Start and Finish?

Secondary schools tend to start around 8.0’clock and end at around 3.0’ clock; however different secondary schools have different starting and ending times. Most schools have specific days in which this time frame changes – this tends to be the Thursday or the Friday in which the normal school day is shortened by 1/2 hours. 

Now whilst, for most students the normal school time allocated is the time that they will be in school; for some students they will be required to partake in revision or support sessions to catch up with their work. For instance, for GCSE exams students are sometimes allocated compulsory time slots after school, to support students with their learning and to ensure the best possible outcome when they are to sit their exams. These revision/support sessions are sometimes voluntary; however, the compulsory ones will mean that you school day will definitely be elongated – usually only for an hour or two. 

Clubs and extra-curricular in secondary schools are usually voluntary; however sometimes they are made compulsory, to encourage your participation with a sport /skillThese sessions are usually short and don’t tend to require a long-term time commitment. Again, they will elongate your school day; however, they don’t last long and are normally worth the time commitment.  

If you are interested in school days world-wide, I recommend you read this useful article. 

How Long Are School Lessons?

Again, every school will deal with timetabling differently, so timings will differ across the UK. However most single period lessons last for around 1 hour – sometimes 50 minutes/70 minutes – and double period lessons last for around 2 hours. Students tend to have more double periods the older you are in secondary school, so younger years aren’t as likely to have 2 hours of the same subject. 

Due to COVID, double periods are more common for all students, as it will mean that students won’t move around the school building as much. So, whilst on a usual year at high school, certain students won’t really have double periods, during this year it is more likely, to reduce COVID transmissions. 

How Long Are Breaks?

School breaks last around 20/30 minutes – this again depends on the school that you go to and it may have changed due to COVID. Usually, students are able to freely go into the school library or out onto the yard; however, due to COVID breaks have changed, meaning that some students aren’t able to partake in the activities they would normally be involved with. 

How Long Are School Lunches?

Lunches tend to last around 30/40 mins, but this timing differs. If the students have a longer break, it usually means they are allocated a shorter amount of time for lunch. Due, to COVID lunches and breaks have generally been reduced in schools. lunches, during more normal times students have been able to go into the library, go out onto the yard, go into computer rooms etc.  

What Does the School Day Consist of?

A school day consists of 3-8/9 periods – usually secondary schools have 7/8 periods, but this depends on school. During the first 2 years of secondary school and even the first 3 years (depending on when you start your GCSEs), your timetabled lessons are more varied and then when you start your GCSEs your lessons are less varied. 

In some school days, students will have assemblies addressing societal issues or problems in the school or the year group. Assemblies are usually done by heads of years or senior members of staff – they last around half an hour and for most schools this only takes place once a week. 

For some schools that are founded on religion, the school day may consist of daily prayers/ activities for students that develop spirituality and religiosity. This may take place in the form of starting/ ending the school day with prayers or having sessions in which certain elements of religion are focused on and practiced. 

Even when you specialise in certain courses at GCSE, there are still compulsory courses like science, maths, English, a foreign language, a humanities subject; however, you can choose the other subjects you want to take. This can be art, drama, music, citizenship, design technology, sociology, psychology etc. Though this will mean you have to give up some subjects as schools do tend to limit the amount of GCSE subjects you take. 

All school days consist of a break and lunch in-between lesson times to break them up, unless a school day is shortened, and you have been made aware that the break/lunch will no longer take place. For most schools you will have 2, 2-hour periods, before and after your break and lunch. 

After these hours you may have a club or revision support session, which will mean that you are in school for around 1/2 hours longer. These are only voluntary if you show that you are able to work well independently and don’t need further school involvement. 

Which Clubs Do Secondary Schools Offer?

At secondary school options for activities are move varied, especially in comparison to primary school. Clubs tend to be split into 3 categories: sports, creative arts and further education. So most secondary schools offer basketball, netball, football, drama club, art club, reading club, computer science group etc.  

Schools tend to offer opportunities in which students have the opportunity to name clubs they are interested in and if enough people are, teachers will create new clubs. For instance, anime clubs have become increasingly popular – so some secondary schools have anime clubs.  

How Has COVID Impacted Students Secondary School Day?

Due to COVID students haven’t been able to interact with other students in the way that they normally would have done. For instance, students aren’t able to interact with students from other year groups and even other form groups. This means their interaction with other students has been restricted as students haven’t had the opportunity to develop relationships with students that are in different social groups. 

COVID has also meant that for some days students have been doing online lessons. For instance, certain year groups are allocated certain days in which they do lessons at home. This has drastically changed their school day as students haven’t had as much support with lessons at home. 

Extra-curricular activities have moved online, this has meant that students don’t stay in school any longer than is absolutely necessary. Online activities, tend to be tasks/ videos; however, sometimes they are live lessons with teachers so there can be more interaction. 

Revision sessions for students, particularly GCSE students have also been moved online. These sessions tend to alternate between live tutorials and set tasks that students have to complete by a specified time. 

COVID has meant that the school day has been shortened and altered, so extra-activities have been online. Every student’s response to these changes has been different but certainly these changes have provided students with the opportunity to develop more independence when learning. 

As every school is different, this helpful article will aid you when comparing different schools.

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