What happened to letting kids be kids?

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.


    • notafrumpymum
      January 30, 2014 / 6:48 pm

      I completely agree, After-school childcare desperately needs to be addressed, making school days longer isn’t the answer. Thanks for commenting.

  1. January 30, 2014 / 8:04 pm

    I agree completely with what you have written. My sister is a teacher too, and she already works until 6/7 most nights as well as every Sunday afternoon. I don’t see where teachers could find any more time to do all the extra planning / resources / marking. Not to mention the poor kids who would be put through such long days.
    Politicians are so out of touch these days, and it’s more obvious within education policies than anywhere else.

  2. January 30, 2014 / 8:30 pm

    That’s longer than a working day here people are getting paid to be there! How can you force children to learn and stretch their attention span for that many hours? So families will end up eating tea together at around 7.00 or seperatley? And never mind about playing out after school then. What a BS idea!

  3. January 30, 2014 / 9:21 pm

    I fear if this plan were to come into force there would be many valuable, inspirational teachers leaving the profession. And the effect on the kids? Scary. It’s enough to make me consider home educating.

    • notafrumpymum
      January 30, 2014 / 9:24 pm

      I’d definitely consider other options for my son, and I’d be handing in my notice as a teacher and looking for an alternative career. The job is unsustainable for the length of time they are talking about, if they want it done properly!

  4. January 30, 2014 / 9:28 pm

    I can’t think what else to say other than its just nuts! i can’t believe i share a surname with such an idiot!

  5. January 30, 2014 / 9:32 pm

    I totally agree as a parent & fellow teacher too! I’m already thinking about leaving the job as there’s enough pressure/workload now.
    It’s bonkers! Let those masterminds try teaching 5 Year olds after lunch, they’re already shattered then. I certainly wouldn’t want my son enduring these hours at school either x

  6. January 30, 2014 / 9:52 pm

    I left my much loved job as a primary school teacher because of the already crazy working conditions. It broke my heart as i literally wanted to be a teacher since i was at nursery. This will definitely drive away good teachers. My eldest starts school nursery in September (sob!) And if this does come in (I doubt it will) I will take my kids out of school and homeschool x

  7. January 30, 2014 / 10:13 pm

    A really terrible idea… and no sign either of a decent opposition party to turf this demented lot out of power, when it’s never been more needed… that’s what I find most depressing, that there is no-one in sight with any vision or understanding of real life.

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