On Wednesday Osborne announced his plans to make the traditional school day longer by ending the ‘victorian’ 3:30pm home time. His plans are to enable secondary schools to stay open beyond 3:30pm each day, offering an extra 5 hours of lessons or extra-curricular clubs per week. His thinking behind this is that
“It is simply unacceptable that Britain continues to sit too low down the global league tables for education. So I’m going to get on with finishing the job we started five years ago, to drive up standards.”
As well as longer school days Osborne unveiled his plan to make every school an academy but that is a whole other (ranty) blog post. With regards to longer school days it set (alarm) bells ringing as this is something Gove tried (and failed) to bring in. Like Osborne he argued that the hours of our schools were “stuck in the 19th century”. However, many teachers argued, quite rightly, that Gove was a little out of touch with the reality of what goes on in a school. It now appears that Osborne is equally out of touch with the reality of school life.
I wonder if Gove and Osborne were down the pub one night. I suspect they were huddled in the corner, Gove hiding from the paps who are always stalking him due to brexit and Osborne was panicking about the budget, that red case staring him down over his pint of Speckled Hen. Perhaps Osborne was muttering about needing to make the headlines for the right reasons and not because of his trendy haircut. Maybe he started slurring that he wanted to be bold, he wanted to do something dramatic. Did Gove then take advantage of a slightly inebriated Osborne and share some of his old ideas that didn’t quite make it. Did Gove whisper in his ear about longer school hours and how he, Osborne, was the man to deliver it. Was this all part of Gove’s plan to force the media’s attention away from him and onto someone else?
Cunning Gove, very cunning.
Is it that far fetched to believe that Osborne hatched the idea of longer hours over a pint because something must have been imparing his judgment. Does Osborne really believe that come 3:30pm teachers put their feet up and have a coffee, whilst all the children skip home. No, in reality most teachers will already be running extra-curricular clubs, revision classes and booster classes. On the other days they will be marking, planning lessons, filling in paperwork, attending staff meetings, attending parent meetings and running detentions. So in reality no school actually closes to its pupils at 3:30pm. My school used to stay open until at least 6pm.
Currently a pupil can choose whether they want to attend their booster classes or an extra-curricular club. What Osborne is proposing will take away that choice (schools can decide if they choose to opt in). It will put more pressure on the teachers and children will be even more tired and as a result parents will worry. The last lesson of the day is already a struggle for pupils. If Osborne doesn’t believe this then he needs to visit an English lesson at 3:00pm and watch a class of Year 11s struggling to decipher Shakespeare. This is after they have already had to get their heads around Pythagoras’ Theorem in Maths and unpick equations in Physics. By the time that school bell rings they have had enough and who blames them. Adding another hour on top of this is not productive and it will not raise standards. Perhaps the government needs to take heed of the mantra we teach our children
quality is far more important than quantity.
If Osborne actually did some research and studied those global league tables then he would notice that
countries where children start school later and have shorter days are at the top of the table.
Why are these countries doing better in their education than us? It is simple really – balance. They have a good balance. The education system understands the importance of pupils attending school but it also understands the importance of home life for children. They understand that a school isn’t there to act as babysitter for the children. They appreciate the importance of family time, they respect childhood.
They let the schools get on with educating the children and the families with raising the children.
As a former teacher it makes me relieved that I chose to leave. A profession that I adored but also a profession where finding the work life balance was impossible. I really worry for teachers and how they will find the time to plan ‘quality’ lessons that will inspire and enthuse their pupils. Let’s face it teachers go into the profession because they want to TEACH. However, the adding of another hour to the end of school day will make this even harder to do, teachers are already exhausted by a heavy workload. Teachers always want to do the best by their pupils and that is why most teachers already work long hours and will continue to do so.
I might be relieved that I am no longer a teacher but I worry for my children and how the government seems intent on stealing their childhood. We need to let our children be children.
What do you think of the proposed longer school day?
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