There are no lessons at Raffles Institution every Wednesday as the school has pivoted to a four-day week for its junior college students -- those in Year 5 and 6.
The Straits Times reported that shortened school week has been instituted since the beginning of 2021.
The students use the so-called gap day on Wednesdays to rest, exercise, catch up on their own work, do volunteer work, have consultations with teachers, participate in co-curricular activities, or even sign up for enrichment lessons organised by the school.
If students spend time on co-curricular activities on Wednesday, they free up time on other days, so that they still adhere to a four-day week.
A parent of a student interviewed by ST said the gap day has allowed cutting down on time getting ready for school and commuting.
How four-day week came about
RI principal Frederick Yeo told ST that he realised the timetable could be reworked to free up one day mid-week after mass lectures went online in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Previously, students only had time for non-school work activities on weekends and evenings.
Yeo said he was motivated to design an "enjoyable educational experience" to give his students space and time, and admitted he was uncertain if a four-day week was "radical".
As most RI students are highly motivated, he went ahead.
Some 89 per cent of JC 2 students surveyed in June 2021 and 95 per cent of JC1 students surveyed at the end of the same year felt they benefited from a gap day, according to ST.
With the gap day, students who are prone to procrastinating reportedly also showed self-awareness as they realised they needed greater self-discipline, Yeo said.
Grades not affected
The effects of a gap day did not affect A-level results.
The class of 2021 outperformed the class of 2020, while doing almost just as well as those in 2019, a pre-pandemic year, the principal said.
In 2021, 52 per cent of students offering four H2 subjects scored distinctions in all four subjects.
In 2020, it was 47 per cent.
In 2019, it was 56 per cent.
Also, 61 per cent of students scored at least three H2 distinctions in their content-based subjects in 2021.
In comparison, 58 per cent in 2020, and 64 per cent in 2019, scored at least three H2 distinctions.
An H2 subject is an A-level subject.
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