Schools Are Not A Babysitting Service

It’s been quite a while since I have written about education.  With the thought of maternity leave looming and the chance to spend close to 12 months out of schools I have been pushing most work related thoughts to the back of my mind.  But then there was the budget yesterday, and with it the latest way to “improve” education.  Let’s leave the news that every school must be an Academy by 2020 for a minute (that’s a whole other blog post in itself), but focus on the scrapping of the “Victorian” 3:30pm school home time. Sigh!

Mr Osborne would like to increase funding to provide an additional five hours (I’m assuming one each day) for extra lessons or extra-curricular activities.  Initially he is offering funding for up to 25% of schools for this to happen, but as with most things in education once a few schools start the rest will inevitably follow.  He claims this will help working parents, that this will improve standards and whilst the former may be true I fail to see how it helps the latter.  I would love to invite Mr Osborne to come and sit in on my Year 11 class last lesson on a Tuesday, the words blood and stone spring to mind and the thought of having to have another lesson after that would be soul destroying.

Quite simply after 5 hours of lessons children have had enough.  They are children, they are tired and an extra hour on top of the school day is not some magic solution to improve results in this country.  More does not necessarily mean better!

I can see how longer days would help working parents, but schools are not there to provide a babysitting service and shouldn’t be viewed as such.  They are there to educate the future generation.  I am a working parent, as are a lot of teachers, and adding an extra hour to the end of an already jam-packed day will have a huge impact on the already dubious work-life balance.

I can already hear the pro-argument that these hours will be something extra, you will get paid overtime for them, they won’t be compulsory.  With the demise of Local Authority control the school day is at the discretion of individual academies.  For several years my school has made it compulsory that all staff must provide at least one hour of enrichment (for the vast majority of us these are extra revision lessons) a week.  Whilst that may be only once a week, by the time you have a meeting after school, and a parents evening, and a detention duty it is not uncommon to have at least three nights a week taken up.

There will no doubt be the usual complaints that teachers are lazy, and resisting change again.  In most other jobs they have to work until 4:30 or 5pm or even later so why shouldn’t they?  The teachers reading this will be thinking, if only I finished work at 5pm.  The reality is that the school day of 8:30-3:30 is only a small fraction of our working day, and it is getting smaller.  Once the pupils leave at the end of the school day the admin that begins is becoming increasingly unmanageable.  The planning, marking, emails, tracking, intervention involved in the job is unsustainable and is the reason that teachers are leaving in huge numbers,

Most teachers love being in the classroom, I do, it’s the reason I stay in the job, but the work load is crazy.  Most teachers want to do the very best for their students and it is becoming increasingly frustrating that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do this.  Placing another hour at the end of the school day increases the planning and marking involved in the job whilst reducing the time you have to do the preparation required.

I often think back to when I started teaching 14 years ago.  A lot has changed and the pressure and workload is increasing every year.  Am I a better teacher for all of this?  This is an easy question to answer, No.  I have less time to research interesting and exciting lessons, I am more exhausted in front of classes and the time I have to spend with pupils is diminishing because there are quite simply too many other things to do.  Sad, but true.

Schools educate, teachers teach and children need time to be children.  They don’t want to be at school until 5 o’clock every day, they want to chat with their friends, be silly, have time to be themselves, to find out what their interests are.  Over the past few years I have seen too many children struggle to cope with the educational demands that they are facing, more time in school is the last thing they need.

As a parent I want teachers who are enthusiastic and energetic with my children, not over-worked, exhausted, disillusioned individuals who once believed that they could make a difference to a child’s life.

Schools don’t raise children, families do.

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12 Comments

  1. March 17, 2016 / 8:49 am

    Great post Jo. I’m in constant awe of the work put in by teachers. My mother was a teacher and my husband is too. It’s like nothing else x

    • March 17, 2016 / 8:52 am

      Thanks Kiran, I was a bit nervous posting it, I haven’t had a rant for a while and there’s usually a lot of differing opinions with anything education related. xx

  2. March 17, 2016 / 9:26 am

    Jo – what a marvellous post. My husband is a secondary school teacher and was saying much the same. What is the aim of this destruction of the private sector – I have no clue what the end game is and I don’t trust it. We rarely finishes work before 5 and every evening/and for hours of the weekend has endless admin that he never feels on top of. Well done for writing this x

    • March 17, 2016 / 9:33 am

      I don’t trust it either lovely, it really makes me worried for what I will be returning to after maternity leave. I never feel on top of anything, and I’m a worse teacher for it! x
      Not A Frumpy Mum recently posted…Schools Are Not A Babysitting ServiceMy Profile

  3. March 17, 2016 / 10:03 am

    The last line sums it up PERFECTLY! I only see if from the parenting side but the amount of parents I’ve seen shouting at teachers and blaming them. The best I saw was on Facebook a lady saying to her adult son as she was thinking of home schooling her younger daughter “if they had taught you better you would be better behaved” and that said it ALL!!
    I read a very interesting piece about the best performing countries start school later and have shorter days. Maybe that should be the starting point!

  4. March 17, 2016 / 10:29 am

    Great post. I dont see how making the kids go longer at school will do any better. Poor kids will be knackered by the time they get home 🙁
    Sam – Travelling With Our Kids recently posted…Moving HouseMy Profile

  5. March 17, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    Teaching has to be one of the hardest jobs ever. I have no idea how a person keeps all those kids motivated and learning through the day. I always though anything post 2.30 is like a grave yard shift as it is. I really really want to use the words “bl**dy w*******” to describe the tories right now. But I won’t. So so so flipping clueless. Good grief!
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…The kids in this playgroundMy Profile

  6. March 17, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    Brilliant post Jo, I feel exactly the same. Every move they make seems to devalue teachers further and pressure students more. They forget that teachers have family too! My husband works constantly at home. I wish they would speak to some normal teachers and students before putting these things through under the guise of being on everyone’s best interests! It is a bit of a worry for the future, I think all you teachers are amazing xx
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome recently posted…Babies No MoreMy Profile

  7. March 17, 2016 / 5:21 pm

    This is a great post and from a teacher’s perspective, it does sound like it will be tougher. I just, however, wanted to chip in that I went to an international school (as my parents worked abroad and moved around a lot). I started school at 9.00 am every day and finished lessons at 4.00pm. We then had to do compulsory extra activities e.g. sport or music or debate for three out of the 5 days. We also had lessons on some Saturday mornings. Whilst this was tough for some students, and it was by no means at an academic school at all, it did mean that students got to learn or experience more and became much more rounded. In all honesty, it was great. HOWEVER, where the gov is going to get the extra resources from for this I have no idea!!! As you said, loads are leaving the profession. I am actually hoping to become an English teacher – I was a commercial lawyer for 5 years working 15 hour days including weekends – I had to stop as it would have been impossible to have any family life around that career. I hope that I will be able to bring something to teaching and that I get on the course! Brilliant post and I hope you don’t mind me having an ever so slightly different opinion on one aspect of it xx

  8. March 17, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    Not a teacher but hell even I know that teachers are not finishing at 3.30! They have lesson plans to sort out, meetings, evening events, trips, and more but on top of all this they have homework, tests and mock test exams to grade!

    For every class with homework or tests set you have to grade all the papers in that class… if you have 5 classes a day all which have work to grade. If you have 30 students in each class, that is 30 students to grade for each hour… That is a lot of work on top of teaching for a full day!

    Schools are about education and on top of the time spent by the teachers, it has been proven again and again just how bad overloading children can do for their education and social needs.

    I’m all for an optional hour of activities that parents can pay for held at the school but a 9-5 day of lessons will ruin both the students and teachers!

  9. March 18, 2016 / 11:40 am

    Well said Jo. What is happening in our education system at the moment, is driving away the best teachers and it frightens me. Teachers are exhausted and stressed enough as it is. Sadly, our children (remember I have one in year 11!) are on the receiving end of that stress and exhaustion. It makes no sense for anyone to increase the day. What a disaster.
    Suzanne3childrenandit recently posted…Take 5: Sickness, Suggestions and Sarah Lancashire’s BrillianceMy Profile

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