Length of School Day
The following text is taken from Circular 11/95 Time in School
The term 'school hours' in relation to any
school day means the entire time of the school meeting
from the opening of the school for the reception of
the pupils to its closing on their dismissal.
The school should be open to receive pupils not later
than 9.30 am and formal instruction must commence not
later than 9:50 am in all schools, and not later than
2 pm at the afternoon meeting in schools in which there
are two meetings daily. (Rule 55 Rules for National
The period of religious instruction to be provided
for in the timetable for each school day must be at
least one half hour.
The period of secular instruction to be provided for
in the timetable of each school day must be at least
four hours and ten minutes. In the case of infants and
first standard, the time required may be reduced by
one hour, but this does not exempt any teacher from
attendance for the full period of the school meeting.
In a school in which there is only one meeting daily,
an interval for recreation of one half-hour should be
allowed. A board of management may however, arrange
for a recreation interval in excess of one half-hour
but not exceeding one hour.
In all schools a five minute break should be allowed
at an intermediate time in the forenoon and again in
the afternoon (in practice most schools take a 10 minute small break). The time at which each break is taken
should be duly entered on the time table. The pupils
should be permitted to go into the playground and the
classroom should be ventilated during each break. These
may be deducted from the time allowed for secular instruction.
A minimum period of ten minutes must be set down in
the time table for roll call.
In order to maintain effective supervision over the
pupils from the time of their arrival at the school,
the staff is required, in a school in which there is
only one meeting daily, to be in attendance at the school
20 minutes before the time fixed for the commencement
of formal instruction (secular or religious). The time
between the teachers' arrival and the commencement
of formal instruction must be spent in the carrying
out of duties connected with the school work, supervision
of pupils, preparation of teaching materials for the
day's lessons, hearing or correction of home lessons
or other work, school records or accounts etc.
The following is an outline of the required school day in an ordinary national school. The Rules referred to are the Rules for National Schools.
School Hours In A National School: (One Meeting
- 4 hours 10 minutes secular instruction – Rule
56 (1)(a) is amended by Circular 17/’77. It may
be reduced by one hour for children in infants and
- 30 minutes religious instruction;
- 30 minutes lunch break - Rule 56(5);
- 10 minutes roll call – Rule 55(4)(d);
- 20 minutes assembly time – Rule 124(1)(a);
- two five minute breaks should also be allowed but
these may be deducted from the period allowed for
secular instruction – Rule 56(6) and Rule 56(1)(b).
The total period in school should therefore amount to 5 hours and 40 minutes.
Two Meetings Daily – Rule 55(2)
In schools in which the midday interval is longer than one hour, the school day must be regarded as comprising two meetings and the roll called in both the morning and afternoon. Assembly time is taken in two ten minute periods at the beginning of each meeting.