According to our Pob-faced buffoon of an education secretary, Michael Gove, he wants to extend the school day to 9-10 hours, at the same time reducing school holidays to 7 weeks.
In its most basic form, it is yet another display from Gove that demonstrates his belief that teachers aren’t working hard enough for their wage, but he has disguised this argument with talk of “helping parents reduce childcare costs” and good-natured but nonsensical suggestions of the benefits of extra curricular activities for kids.
The reality of the matter is, this is almost certainly going to be an attempt at vote-winning from the Conservatives which will never actually see the light of day. And thank goodness for that, because I firmly believe it’s an absurd plan. Here’s a few of the reasons why:
For starters, who is going to pay for this initiative? It’s all very well harping on about the cost of childcare, but what about the cost to schools of all the extra teaching staff they’ll need? The electricity, gas, security and other costs of keeping a school open longer? The facilities and equipment that all these extra-curricular activities will require? All of these costs add up – and at a time when costs are being cut left, right and centre, where are the funds for this going to come from?
Next up is the holiday issue. One of the most contentious issues amongst parents at the moment is the high cost of taking your kids away in school holidays. If school holidays are reduced, this cost will only get higher. And don’t go imagining that the government will step in and force the holiday companies to cut their prices – after all, when have this government done anything anti-business?!
Thirdly you’ve got the issue of how the hell kids are going to cope with 2-3 more hours of school. Any teacher will tell you that educating children in the final lesson slot of the current school day is an unenviable task. Kids are (understandably) tired after a day of learning, and need some rest time before bed. Making them work (or do sport, or whatever) for several more hours will only result in worse behaviour and more issues for our already-overworked teachers to deal with.
Before you tell me that this will be helpful for working parents who are forking out thousands on childcare, I’d genuinely like to know: the current system has been in place for god-knows how long. Surely you made plans for this before you had kids? This “solution” isn’t going to solve your childcare problem, and I urge you to read Gove’s recommendations in detail before thinking that it might.
In a time when we’re being told that family is the most important thing for a child, how do we think spending even less time with our kids is going to do anything but harm? When exactly are we supposed to teach them the stuff not covered on the school curriculum?
Please don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against people who choose to send their children to private or boarding schools. But the optimal word there is CHOOSE. Being forced en-mass to send children to school for longer is a blanket solution (to a problem i’m not even sure can be solved) and will bring nothing but issues, should it ever become a reality.
Of course, this is just my opinion – that of a father who gets to spend far too little time with his children as it is – and the husband of a hard-working teacher. I’d love to hear the opinion of people who disagree with me – I’ll happily host a follow-up disagreement piece if anyone cares to write one, too.