Do you disagree with the longer school days?

M OConnel's picture
I personally do disagree as I'm a concerned parent - not yet has Child Welfare been mentioned.

So I have set up a petition; if you like me disagree please sign and share.

•Longer hours will not ensure better standards as a child would not be able to focus for this length of time, even when extending time on music classes etc.

•How about children who are bullied in school? They would be left in this situation for even longer – could lead to serious outcomes i.e. suicide

•‘It is the quality of teaching at schools and students’ attitude towards learning that count most, not the number of hours students spend studying’ The OECD publication PISA in Focus 22nd April 2013

•Family life – under your proposed idea families would have limited time together; when parents are working shift hours or nights etc. The Convention of the Rights of the Child - Article 31 (Leisure, play and culture)says: Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities."
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Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 13/02/2014 - 15:53

It's clear not all parents want the school day to be longer or holidays to be shorter (see sidebar for reaction of some Great Yarmouth parents for plans at their primary school to introduce a longer day for older pupils).

The objections to a longer school day are these:

1 As M OConnell says, it's quality not quantity that counts. In high-performing Finland, pupils spend fewer hours in school than in most developed countries.
2 It encroaches on family life.
3 It presumes parents don't provide valuable activities for their children.
4 It makes it easier for employers to refuse flexible working on the grounds that parents can choose a school which keeps their children for a longer working day.
5 It confuses education with child care.

R Waring's picture
Thu, 13/02/2014 - 16:20

Longer than what?!
getting to the workplace at 7, 7:30, working through until a dinnertime club, and carrying on through until the afterschool club before leaving at 5 or after unless it's a parents evening or twighlight INSET or staff meeting.

R Waring's picture
Thu, 13/02/2014 - 16:21

oh and then taking some assessments and reports home to carry on with them

A Cooper's picture
Thu, 13/02/2014 - 21:36

The STRB 2014 (School Teacher's Review Body) have recommended that directed time (the time allocated to teach pupils) should remain at 1265 hours per year over 195 (5 of which are allocated to staff training) in maintained schools. There will be no increase in contact time in the foreseeable future. Of course, academies and free schools are still at liberty to extend contact time and shorten holiday periods.

Harry's picture
Thu, 13/02/2014 - 21:42

The trouble with this announcement is that we don't know what is proposed. Is this to be a compulsory longer day? Or will there be breakfast clubs and after-school clubs - extra provision but only for those who want it? Will it be staffed by assistants, teachers volunteering for no extra pay, teachers volunteering for extra paid hours, or will there be a change of teachers' contracts to force a change?

I presume the lack of detail is deliberate, but until Gove explains exactly what he means it's difficult to organise a response.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 14/02/2014 - 07:59

Harry - you're right that the lack of detail from Gove is unhelpful. But he's made it clear the reason he wants schools to extend their hours is because it would lead to higher exam results (debatable). His "evidence", as I explain in this post, is that pupils in independent schools get more GCSEs and A levels because pupils in independent schools spend more time in school (Gove's forgotten about the longer holidays).

If he's linking longer school days with increased results (unproven) then this implies the extra hours would be mandatory. He talked in Parliament about the benefit of longer hours particularly to disadvantaged pupils - again, this implies some form of compulsion.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 14/02/2014 - 08:08

R Waring - you're right to point out that teachers carry on working long after school opening times. This is not recognised by politicians and much of the media who choose to ignore the fact that lesson preparation, marking, reports, data processing, meetings etc take place outside school hours. And that's before running clubs etc.

The small amount of preparation time allowed within school (which Gove wants stopped) is insufficient for this to be done.

However, as long as people like Toby Young go on TV and say teachers only work from 9-3 then the long hours teachers work throughout the year (even during the holidays) will be unrecognised.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 14/02/2014 - 08:34

The the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) – which rules on teachers' pay and conditions – rejected Gove's plea for the rules governing teachers' professional duties should be dumped. STRB argued they were “reasonable protection for teachers”.

Perhaps STRB should now look at zero-hours contracts such as the one causing problems at Stem Academy.

Harry's picture
Fri, 14/02/2014 - 11:21

Janet, I understand what you're saying, but Gove is trying to be all things to all people. He stresses the perceived advantages (’more' learning, extensive free childcare) but by being completely vague about the detail escapes scrutiny of the blindingly-obvious disadvantages (compulsion of children, parents and teachers, overload, lack of extra funding). I suspect it is a 'Thick of it'-style announcement, launched only to see whether it floats.

A Cooper's picture
Fri, 14/02/2014 - 22:07

They (STRB) have agreed to demolish the hard won workload agreement that listed 24 administrative duties that did not require the expertise of a qualified teacher such as bulk copying, putting up and taking down wall displays, collecting money, chasing pupil absences, keeping pupil files up dated etc..

Sadly, I doubt the STRB have much jurisdiction over the terms and conditions imposed by academies and free schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 15/02/2014 - 07:56

A Cooper - you're right. I misunderstood the bit about removing the specific non-professional tasks from the contract. The Independent said 21 tasks, so did NUT, but I thought there were 24.

My misunderstanding, however, came not from the number of tasks. I thought removing from the contract meant they could NOT be included in a teacher's contract. As you and NUT pointed out in an email to members, it means the opposite:

"Although it [STRB] did recommend removal of the list of 21 administrative tasks that teachers should not routinely undertake, the core provision that teachers should not undertake this type of work remains."

UNISON fears teachers' assistants' jobs could be lost if teachers are expected to perform routine tasks currently done by TAs.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Tue, 18/02/2014 - 18:52

I think that Aldi may have something to teach us, or more likely allow us to relearn.

So far as I can see all the Aldi staff in our local (excellent) store including the manager do everything interchangeably. There are no jobs deemed to be too menial.

Interestingly, according to job adverts I have seen, Aldi pays its staff more than Tesco and the like and still sells better quality produce cheaper without rip off mislabelling, BOGOFS, special offers, vouchers etc.

My view is that teamwork in a school where the head and senior managers support the staff and the pupils and vice versa is an essential requirement for a happy and effective school. Although staff may have different job descriptions and be paid accordingly, demarcation disputes or attitudes are seldom helpful.

Although my headship school was a pioneer in introducing teaching assistants into a secondary school, on looking back I am not sure it was such a good idea. A flexible team of mutually supportive experienced and qualified teachers could be better and more cost effective.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 19/02/2014 - 08:07

Roger - I don't think pointing out that photocopying is not a sensible use of teachers' time is "demarcation". I know this is anecdotal but I felt my time standing by the photocopier could have been better spent. For a couple of years I had sole responsibility for the school's computers with no technician. I spent a great deal of time sorting out technical problems, parceling up faulty equipment to send for repair and filling in the required paperwork (oh, and spent time searching for missing mouse balls).

Roger Titcombe's picture
Wed, 19/02/2014 - 10:31

Janet - I was really asking myself about classroom/teaching assistants. I am not sure about the benefits. Schools certainly need office/admin staff. I think a good system is to have a central reprographic facility run by the school office. This has the advantage of providing an service staffed by an reprographics expert who can ensure that the work is done in the most appropriate and technically cost effective method. It also prevents waste and damage to expensive equipment by ham fisted teachers. An internal accounting system would charge reprographic work to the internal departmental capitation account.

Technical support is essential in many departments. Proper science teaching is impossible without the support of expert experienced Laboratory technicians. They are like gold and should be rewarded accordingly. Graduate qualifications are perfectly appropriate. In my former Leicestershire Upper School in the 1970s we had brilliant physics, chemistry and biology technicians. They were a great source of advice and ideas to NQTs.

Design and Technology departments also need technical support and this obviously applies to IT where a skilled technician is essential to support school admin systems as well as computer/IT equipment used for teaching purposes. The biggest problem for IT technicians is the demand from staff for help and advice in fixing their own personal computer equipment.

Your mention of mouse balls brings back nostalgic memories. They could not get 'lost' from a mouse. They were stolen by pupils. Mouse balls had a great attraction. A determined mouse ball thief could be extremely disruptive to teaching and learning in a school. Fortunately modern mouses no longer have balls.

All these posts are 'front line' and essential. If schools prioritise non teaching management posts with fancy titles incorporating the word 'executive' (which is a sure fire inflator of salaries) then there won't be enough money in the budget to support the admin and technical staff needed. This is yet another perverse outcome of the marketization of the education system - it causes a proliferation of highly paid non teaching/technician posts.

In my experience, demarcation disputes amongst teachers based on status were common, starting from 'reserved' chairs in staffrooms. One of the main arguments against PRP is its corrosive effect on teamwork and the teaching staff mutual support structure that is essential in an effective school.

FJ Murphy's picture
Wed, 19/02/2014 - 15:56

I agree with almost every aspect of every comment made above. Nothing angers me more than the frequent calls for a longer school day, not only because it would destroy childhood but also from the selfish point of view that I feel that I work quite enough already as a teacher. In particular, I object to schools being seen as free child care. I know that single parents have to work and cannot be at home to be with their children, so the remarks which I am about to make do not apply to them. When my mother had children, she gave up work and we lived on my father's salary, which was by no means enormous. In exchange for various sacrifices in terms of restricted family holidays, having no car and sundry other material things, (none of which I remember even thinking about, let alone missing), we had the almost undivided attention of our mother in our pre-school years (starting school at 5), going shopping with her, talking to her as she did the housework and pottered around. I am ever thankful for this and glad that I was brought up in this way rather than being dumped in a nursery and subjected to the nappy-curriculum. Far from extending the school day, why not start school later, at seven, as I believe is the case in a number of European countries? I hope that this does not sound like a Daily Mail panegyric to the '50s ( I am not that old any way), but those who seem over-concerned about the child-care aspect of schooling make me wonder why some people bother to have children, as they do not seem to want to make sacrifices to bring them up. I expect experts in the psychology and education of young children could shed some light on this.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Wed, 19/02/2014 - 16:24

Well said FJM. It is a great myth that mothers delight in going out to work doing really crap, exploitive, zero hours contract jobs on the minimum wage. The vast majority of such mothers would love to have the financial freedom to look after their infants. This is the real choice that German mothers have. I fully support the right of mothers to make a different choice if that is their FREE choice, not an necessity to pay the energy and food bills and keep a roof over their heads. Many Scandinavian and other European countries support such choices through high quality free or low cost child care. To require the school system to meet this need is misguided and a misuse of teachers.

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