Another day, another new idea about how to improve education. Paul Kirby, an ex government adviser, thinks school days should be 8:30am until 6pm and for 45 weeks a year. In his opinion, this will be a real vote winner in the next election.
As a teacher and a parent I hate this idea from both angles. As a teacher I know how hard that final lesson of the day is. The kids are knackered and are starting to switch off. I don’t blame them, a full day of learning is tiring. I can’t even begin to imagine how they’d respond to lessons starting at 5pm, I’m fairly sure there won’t be much quality learning going on!
It’s not just the length of the day that will be exhausting. As a term approaches the end, there is a noticeable decline in students attention span, and as a result behaviour starts to deteriorate. They are ready (and desperately need) a break. Kids need time to well, how else can I put it, just be kids. To spend quality time with their families, hang out with friends, play sports and find their own independence away from a school environment.
When I put my parent hat on I hate this idea even more. I know my little boy is not at school yet but he will be in a few short years. The thought of him being in school until 6pm actually upsets me. I didn’t have a child so I could hardly ever see him, and for the couple of hours I do see him once school is over for him to be that exhausted he’s heading straight for bed. I actually quite like my son and want to spend as much time with him as possible, I’m sure the vast majority of parents feel the same.
What happens to homework in this situation? If a child has been at school until 6, surely they can’t also be expected to do homework on top of that. Whatever has happened to family time at the end of the day? As adults we know how exhausting a full day at work is with minimum holidays (okay, I know I get a lot more holidays than most, and for that I am very grateful) , but is that really what we want for our kids?
A nine and a half hour day for children is just ludicrous, and is not the way to improve education. If government ministers really want to make a difference then get into schools and ask those of us doing the job what we think. Smaller class sizes for a start, more authority to discipline poor behaviour and, I know this might sound crazy, but start promoting respect for teachers!
Mr Kirby talks about bringing in these changes as soon as September 2016, although currently this is being denied by Michael Gove and David Cameron. I’ll be watching the news closely because one thing I haven’t mentioned so far is the impact this will have on teachers.
I have honestly never known my colleagues to feel so defeated and downbeat, and this new idea could just about be the tipping point. At some point, you have to say enough is enough, I just can’t do what you’re asking of me anymore, and this would be enough to make me turn my back on a job I once used to love. I don’t think I will be on my own!
What are your thoughts on longer days and shorter holidays? I’d love to hear.
The article from the Guardian is linked here and it’s definitely worth having a look at the comments below, they make for some interesting reading.