Longer school days
Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, said last week that school days should be lengthened, partly to prepare pupils better for the world of work.
If the proposal is about really well-funded after-school provision with opportunities to participate in activities, that's fantastic. But only if:
1. Hard-working teachers are not expected to increase their hours and it is staffed by people skilled in those areas.
2. It's optional for pupils.
3. It's government-funded.
4. There are limits on extra hours, depending on the child's age.
If it is simply a way to increase the role of schools as child wardens, then it is of little merit.
I have three kids ranging in age from reception to secondary. They cannot cope with more hours in school. The little one is fine in holidays, but in term time is up by 6.30am to be in breakfast club by 7.30am and is picked up after I finish at 5.30pm. How much more can the poor little thing take?
Hours do not make children more work-ready, just as presenteeism doesn't make someone a more productive worker. We extended the school day for our sixth form to fit in the timetable and they do not perform particularly well in that last hour. To be honest, neither do I.
Will they be putting up our wages by 16 per cent or so? Or even better, like in "proper jobs", letting us take holidays when we want?
Oh, that's right, they live in the wonderful world where we're all in it for the joy of education.
A longer school day would provide a constructive social environment for some children, with rules, boundaries and expectations, rather than what is often a destructive home environment. Unfortunately, it is much easier to heap another problem on schools than address and stigmatise poor parenting in the community.
Note how Twigg sees the longer hours as a guard against gangs. Like they work 9 to 5.
Join the debate at www.tes.co.ukforums.