These schools are moving to a four-day week and different hours. So how do parents feel about it?

Life could be about to get even more chaotic for working parents of school-aged children, following a major shake up to Queensland’s public schooling system.

From next year, Queensland public schools have been given the green light to introduce flexible class schedules, including four-day weeks and shorter days.

Effective from the first day of term 2024, news of the changes was circulated to public school principals on Monday, including a directive for schools to include trials and undertake extensive consultation with their school communities. 

According to the Department of Education’s blueprint, the reasons for allowing schools to change class times and shorten the school week include teacher availability, as well as student and staff "wellbeing and engagement".

The policy, outlined in the blueprint, would need to be followed if schools changed start or finish times by more than 30 minutes, or introduced a day off. The changes can apply to the entire school or specific year levels.

As if managing current school drop-off and pick-up wasn’t difficult enough for working parents, changes to times and/or days could create unmanageable chaos for some families.

To account for working families or transport constraints, the policy requires supervision be provided on a day where attendance is not required, or during the period before or after changed start and finish times.


But with the 'time off' designed, in theory, for home learning, this creates another set of issues for children whose parents can't manage the changes.

Corinda State High School, one of several schools to have flagged a trial of the four-day week, said in its proposal to the school community that students would be expected to "work on school work" on their day off.

Queensland Academies Creative Industries Campus principal Mick Leigh emailed parents with a similar plan, with Wednesday indicated as the chosen day off because "Mondays have a lot of public holidays" and "Friday may not be as useful for providing access to campus".

Mr Leigh also indicated the day would be spent on "independent learning".

Response from parents has been mixed, with many supporting the notion of flexible learning, but only if their employers took the same approach.

"I can't see how this would work. Yes, it's better for the kids and more in line with my education philosophies, but working parents cannot sustain with without employer support, so the whole business world would need to change," said mum Vicky Eckersly when asked her thoughts about the changes.

Fellow mother Kira Trow agrees. "I don’t see employers nationwide making changes to a four-day week. It's going to be a difficult choice for parents. Maybe they're trying to push us further into a recession, because parents can't work as much and might have to make a choice to leave their job because they don't have care for their child."


Many parents believe a four-day week would be good for children in theory, but don't believe it is realistic to expect parents to facilitate learning on 'days off', particularly if they have to work.

"I think a four-day week for everyone including kids would give a far better life balance, and for our family, it would work, with me working less than five days. But I also understand not everyone has that luxury," says Kassie Morgan, another mum who shared her views with Mamamia.

"I personally would love this," added mum Tania Michelle. "I think five days a week, especially in primary school, is way too much for young kids. But of course, a four-day week would also be good for parents who can't pivot around this change."

With many parents unable to dedicate the time to effective learning, some have expressed concern about what their children might get up to during their time off.

"We have a teenage crime epidemic and that seems to always spike in school holidays when they’re bored. Will an extra day contribute to this?” asked one mum, Stephanie Kelly.

"Do we, as parents, fill the day in with something meaningful/learning, or is it just another weekend day for the kids? My son would spend the extra day on his tech given half a chance," she added.


Psychologist Phoebe Rogers says reduced hours would be a step in the right direction for children's mental health and wellbeing – if done properly.

"I suspect it will be positive in terms of allowing their brains to rest, to exercise, move their bodies, and engage more in things that naturally engage them besides formalised learning," Ms Rogers said.

"I see education as so much more than classroom learning, as critical as that is. I celebrate the idea of diversifying learning. I suspect improved mental health and increased energy will follow."

But with the vast majority of home duties and childcare still falling on women's shoulders, and most wanting to do right by their children, the stress of providing stimulating and fulfilling activities during extra time off is yet another pressure for both working and non-working mothers.

"Honestly, it doesn’t make sense," said another mum, Sky Lusted, when asked. 

"With the cost-of-living pressure, it's just another pressure for the lower and middle class to struggle with."

Feature image: Getty

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