Longer school hours?


I’m linking up with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom again this week for her linky ‘The Prompt’. This week’s prompt is a headline:

Lengthen school days and cut holidays, says former Tory adviser’ The Guardian (online) 29 Jan 2014

This story about longer school hours has been big news this week and lots of people have already blogged about it. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to add my voice into the mix but this week’s prompt has somewhat forced my hand!

Lots of people have been getting their knickers in a twist about this news story and perhaps rightly so. As a teacher and a mum I think the idea of lengthening school days and shortening holidays is absolutely ludicrous. I could go on to make the same arguments as many others; kids need time to be kids, to be at home, to play; they need time out of school for extra curricular activities like dance classes, sports clubs, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides; parents need to spend time with their kids, not pick them up from school, feed them and put them to bed. As a teacher I would ask anyone to come into a school at 3:30 pm and look at the kids; if anyone thinks those tired, worn out, fidgety kids, who have already been learning for six hours could manage until 6 pm then I would like to see them attempt to teach one of those classes. I teach at secondary school – even my 15 or 16 year olds would struggle to stay focused until 6 pm. How could anyone expect primary school age children to do it? And what about homework? Sometimes kids need time outside the classroom to consolidate what they have been learning, in their own time. If we were expecting them to be in school for 45 hours a week when would they have time for homework? And that’s not to mention finding teachers willing to teach for 45 hours a week, 45 weeks a year. According to the former Tory adviser, Paul Kirby, “This increase by two-thirds in the time that kids spend at school is designed to allow all parents to work full-time without the need for additional childcare.”  Does this mean an increase in teachers’ salaries by two-thirds as well? And if we’re teaching until 6 pm then when do we plan lessons, mark books, set assessments and all the other things that most teachers spend at least a few hours doing every day after the kids have gone home?

Anyway, those are all the arguments against a longer school day that I could make. But actually I’m not that worried about these proposals. Because that’s all they are, proposals on the personal blog of a man who doesn’t even work for the government anymore. And although it would appear Michael Gove seems intent on ruining the English education system with one unworkable, nonsensical policy after another, I don’t think even he could bring these proposals into practice. Teachers are already leaving the profession in their droves, if they were expected to teach for 45 hours a week, for 45 weeks in a year I don’t think there would be any teachers left!

Reasons to teach