Longer School Days – Can we come home now… Please?

Longer school hours

No thank you is the simple, straight forward answer to that.

In my opinion.

And that’s all this post is…. a personal opinion, I don’t claim to know all the intricate details of the proposals so I’m just having a little rant!

Mr Gove, the Education Secretary has gone and done it again, causing controversy over his longer school days suggestion which in itself is not a new suggestion, but a very recent blog post by former Government advisor, Paul Kirby, has heightened the argument by championing this belief and by adding into the mix less holidays too, which Gove is very much for.

Kirby even goes as far as to say for the next election, the Governments’ manifesto should include what he believes would appeal to women voters and that is:

“from September 2016, all state funded schools will, by law, provide 45 hours of education per week for 45 weeks of the year”.

Well I’m a woman and I certainly wouldn’t go for this.

I have four children and I’m a stay at home mum. I’ve always been a stay at home mum apart from a stint in an office when my eldest started school but that didn’t last long. It was too difficult for me to juggle during the school holidays as my immediate family don’t live close enough to help out and it upset me too much to put him in a holiday club. I wanted to be with him and spend time with him.

Had the longer school days and shorter holidays been in place back then I wouldn’t have had that problem. I also wouldn’t have made the decision to become a fully stay at home mum and enjoyed all the school holidays I’ve had with him throughout his childhood, times that I cherish.

Some of the points raised in Paul Kirby’s blog I kind of agree with and I can totally see where he’s coming from. But who is going to benefit, really? This is aimed at two, full time working parents, or maybe a single parent working full time. I know more and more households have both parents working full time but not all. He wants us to believe ultimately it’s about the education of our children but I’m skeptical.

When you look at it one way, you could say he’s trying to ease the pressure on the full time working parent and if Gove’s comments are correct in that our current school term timetable and holidays are old fashioned, then I suppose there could be some changes due; apparently they were originally designed in the nineteenth century when Britain was an agricultural economy and children had to ‘help on farms’, therefore they needed to have long holidays, especially in the summer.

Gove’s idea that he wants to ‘close the gap’ between our high achieving private sector schools which are among the best in the world and state schools is also admirable, but I cannot see how lengthening school days and shortening holidays this dramatically will do this. After all, don’t private schools have LONGER holidays?

Europe and the States have longer summer holidays than us so I’m unsure as to why they believe less it better. Again, it brings me back to the full time working parent thing.

The deprived child who has no support whatsoever at home, with no prospects of ever visiting an out of school club or have any other opportunities would benefit from longer school days too. This I have no argument for, I’m all for helping those children.

And of course it would suit the working woman who is career minded and wants to work, I appreciate that some mums, even if they could afford to, wouldn’t want to be at home all of the time, but what about the mums who only work because they have no choice?

What message is this sending out to them? It’s simply saying yes, women must and should go to work to help with the economy and to be able to afford to live and support a family. One could argue it would eradicate the need for women to only work part-time or to demand flexible hours! Lets just do as we’re told sisters and get our arses out to work full time shall we?! Pfft.

There are so many women who want to be a stay at home mum, to be a homemaker, who want to drop off and pick up their child from school and spend some valuable, quality and precious time with them. They would give anything to take them off to their after school activities and sports clubs and watch them admiringly. How about making things easier so those Mums DON’T have to go to work instead of keeping kids in school for 9-10 hours a day?

Isn’t FAMILY time the most important thing for a child? Shouldn’t we be encouraging this above all else?

Like I read somewhere this week, in the 50′s, 60′s and possibly the 70′s a tradesman could earn enough money to support his wife and a couple of children, as well as being able to afford to buy his family a home! This is how I remember my own childhood, but now with living expenses spiraling out of control, this is a distant memory and an impossible dream today for most.

Here, in my own family, we struggle at times to makes ends meet and after school activities really stretch us but we make do. We compromise a great deal; We don’t go out very often, we don’t drink, we don’t go overboard with luxury items and whatever we have we’ve usually had to save for.

But that’s the choice we have made.

Don’t get me wrong, I have thought about going back to work on many occasion. Money for one thing but also because I’ve spent days where my poor baby brain has been so deep fried, especially when my twins were very small, I thought I might go insane. There have been times when one more single second of being around a screaming/pestering/demanding child and having no adult conversation at all could’ve driven me to murder but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I know I’ve been lucky to have that choice.

I have loved being with my kids and being there for them every second of every single day and I know they love that too. It’s comforting for children, I know this because my own mum was there for me too when I came home from school. I remember how reassuring it was.

I enjoy those few hours together after school and before dinner with my children. I would HATE to be only seeing them for an hour before bedtime every day and that’s what it would be if Gove and Kirby get their way. It’s OK for them because that’s what THEY do. And it’s OK for other Mums who choose to do that too but it’s not OK for me, and my choice to be with my children would be taken away from me.

That’s if it’s compulsory.

Where would that leave Mums like me if our children were out at school ALL day long?

Would the role of the stay at home mum become redundant?

And most importantly in all of this…. what about our children?

My twins were four in August and started reception in September. They’re still only managing four days a week at the moment and even then I think it’s too long. I’ve no idea whether these plans for longer days include children so young but I’m assuming so, I think age 2 has been mentioned somewhere along the line! I cannot imagine anyone convincing me that this would be beneficial to them. Surely after years of this they would just become institutionalised for want of a better word?

All our children. All the same.

I don’t like it all. Children need time to be free, to relax, to play, at home and with their Mummies/Daddies/siblings.

This post was inspired by Sara over at mumturnedmom and her new link up….

mumturnedmom
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Comments

  1. I completely agree, for me it’s all about the choice and balance, and proposals like this take choice away from parents. I particularly like your question about the role of SAHM’s becoming redundant. Thank you so much for linking up to #ThePrompt

  2. I had my children because I love children, I wanted a family, I wanted to spend time with them. I won’t send them away for 45 hours a week, I’d rather home educate. And I think that may be an aim of his manifesto….

    • Mummy Endeavours says:

      That’s what I was thinking. I would home educate too but I can’t see the longer days happening. Kids need all their holidays too, you can see them getting more tired as the half term approaches! X

  3. Really good point about how things have changed over the years – I hadn’t thought about but, yes, of course. I’ve recently been reading some of my old Topsy and Tim stories with my four year old and its obvious that the daddy goes out to work and the mummy stays home and that seemed completely normal. And they could afford it. So depressing that the economy has gone this way – I just hope that measures like flexible working don’t get whipped away and this ridiculous notion of longer school hours dies a horrible death!

  4. I completely agreed, I think you are right that kids would become institutionalised in those circumstances and I think relationships between kids and parents would suffer too. #ThePrompt

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