to think Gove has probably forgotten the fun of summer holidays, playing out after school and relaxing?

(235 Posts)
kim147 Fri 19-Apr-13 07:43:06

With his plan to extend the school day and shorten the holidays.

Didn't he spend summer playing outside with his friends? Coming home after school, doing clubs like cubs, playing outside, spending time with his parents and just "being a child"?

AIBU to think he's forgotten what it's like to be a child?

HollyBerryBush Fri 19-Apr-13 07:45:13

I understand his logic, but it will never work. Most childrens capacity for a longer day just isn't there.

The argument would be it works for some countries and other countries have much longer off.

If his idea is to address the literacy problem in this country, I'm afraid you could start them at school from 3, 24 hours a day 365 days a year until they are 20 and it still wouldn't address the problem

What's he proposing OP?

kim147 Fri 19-Apr-13 08:04:02

Of course - it's a soundbite without any actual detail. Will it be clubs after "school"?

I just think he's forgotten what it is to be a child and how tiring it can be.

Trillz Fri 19-Apr-13 08:30:53

YABU - it's perfectly possible that he remembers it but just does't think it's important in comparison to what he wants to achieve.

Or maybe he didn't have the idyllic childhood that you describe (as many children don't).

I don't necessarily support his proposals but to ascribe them to he has forgotten the joy of being a child is overly simplistic.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 08:38:44

It is eroding childhood. Children appear to be a chore and must be cared for for free while parents work long hours- or that is the way I see it.

SpanishFly Fri 19-Apr-13 09:01:30

Ooooh my teacher friends won't be delighted with this proposal!

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 09:04:51

I think he just hates children.

I fully support ideas for more wrap around care and better provision for during school holidays. However, to make the school day longer and holidays shorter is wrong and is stopping children from being children and experiencing all the fantastic things outside of school

Well I think they should keep the Sumer holidays as they r!!! From reception they have homework and they just wanna be kids and play!!!! They don't get to do that enough any more.

indyandlara Fri 19-Apr-13 09:07:20

Glad to not be on England. A compulsory longer day would mean I would home school. I do not want my child in school 9 hours a day.

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 09:10:38

From reading the article it seems to me like he very much remembers what it was like. And that in his opinion, the timetable is no longer relevant.

I do agree with this though:

"Mr Gove said that research in Hong Kong, Singapore and other East Asian nations showed that expectations of mathematical knowledge and scientific knowledge were “at every stage” more demanding than in Britain."

I have family in HK and my auntie is a senior teacher there. Kids are on average two years ahead in maths than in the UK and expectations are far higher. Tutors have almost reached rock star status (link)

In Asian countries, there is an absolute belief that education is the route out of poverty. And given how quickly that region has grown over the last couple of decades I'd say it is very true.

Like it or not we are competing with them now on the global market. Whether or not scrapping the 6 weeks holidays is the right thing to do, I'm not convinced yet. But I do know we need higher standards and kids need to and can achieve more. And for that I'm glad we've an education secretary who does genuinely seem more bothered about how to raise standards than keeping the teachers happy.

MiniTheMinx Fri 19-Apr-13 09:12:34

I don't think he had any friends.

I don't see any difference btw extended care, after school clubs, CM for after school, holidays camps and the provision of breakfast clubs and this new proposal.

If parents work and rely upon holiday, before and after school care then this won't fundamentally change anything.

I am in favour of this on the proviso that the teaching time/lesson time for core subjects NC remain much the same and access to music, arts and sporting opportunities is made available. This could help to bridge the gap btw state and private provision if done well.

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 09:13:14

And for that I'm glad we've an education secretary who does genuinely seem more bothered about how to raise standards than keeping the teachers happy.

Who is going to raise these standards if the teachers aren't happy?

The teachers are the people who should be being listened to, they are the ones who know the challenges and the problems which are being faced in schools so their is no point just ignoring their views in the search for some sort of 'greater good'

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 09:16:26

It is eroding childhood. Children appear to be a chore and must be cared for for free while parents work long hours- or that is the way I see it.

I agree with you it is trying to make out it is to help working parents blah blah but it just looks like children are an inconvenience that need looked after, this is no reflection on working parents but bloody hell school is 9 till 3/4ish how much longer to we expect school to take care of children

, I do agree the summer holidays are way to long though why not take out half term instead In scotland we dont get the may half term and until recently we had a few days in february I dont understand the half terms is the English summer/easter holidays shorter I would imagine it would all need to balance out somewhere

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 09:17:25

it would end up going to school in shifts couldnt be doing with that dd you are on day shift today you start at 7 and finish at 2 confused

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 09:17:52

if the teachers aren't happy

If they are so unhappy, they can go find themselves another job and let the teachers who are happy teach.

It seems very much to me like teachers are never happy at any proposals that change the status quo. Especially if it disrupts the 6 weeks holidays.

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 09:20:36

MrsJay - our Easter holidays are 2 weeks and the summer 6 weeks.

I think the half terms are good and a chance to "recharge" your batteries a bit especially for the younger children.

Reducing the 6 weeks holiday to 4 would make sense, perhaps adding the extra 2 weeks onto other holidays.

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 09:23:06

Oh ok sirzy sometimes we have 8 weeks depending on when we break up we have a week in october though so that is a sort of half term it must balance out to the 30 odd weeks that way.

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 09:24:07

we break up in june that is why we dont get may week

SirChenjin Fri 19-Apr-13 09:26:44

I'm with niceguy - we are now competing for jobs in a global market, like it or not. The school holidays we have now were built around the agricultural economy of 2 centuries ago not the world we live in now. I have friends who are teachers at both primary and secondary level - they see the long holidays as a perk of the job rather than an opportunity for children to be children, and will fight tooth and nail to keep that perk. As a parent, I'm less concerned with that perk and more concerned about the opportunities my children have access to through education and extra-curricular activities such as sport and music.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 09:28:33

I love the long holidays at my DC's private schools (who of course won't reduce them whatever Gove does to state schools).

However, all the research shows that longer holidays simply further advanatge my (already) advanatged DC and disadvanatge those DC who are already disadvanatge.

ie the current system compounds social immobility.

If we keep the status quo, aren't we also saying we don't care about social mobility?
Aren't we saying we would like to help disadvanaged DC but only if it doesn't hurt our own?

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 09:29:55

Also, you only need come on MN during the summer break to see that many parents do not like it!

DorisIsWaiting Fri 19-Apr-13 09:34:09

Reducing the 6 week holiday is an awful plan. Some children need that time as downtime. In addition if all the families in the UK wanted to holiday in those 4 weeks prices would sky rocket (forces of supply and demand /there would be even more limited availability). Business would struggle to allow employees leave, and family time would be further fractured.

As for the longer school day, when do the children have time to do non acaedemic (and therefore low value) activities swimming, brownies, cubs, craft or music? He is not proposing to give over the extra time to these kind of activities he just wants more academic rigour.

I am not a teacher but I am very happy with the standard of teaching my dc receive. It needs to be allowed time to bear fruit.

Children are not machines, they need time to play and grow independently.

StanleyLambchop Fri 19-Apr-13 09:37:21

We get such precious little summer weather in this country, with a six week holiday at least you are spreading out the risk of the entire holiday being rained off. I think it is natural for children to want to enjoy some relaxing time in the sunny weather. There is more to life that just being in school all day long.
Gove is also being very selective when he mentions that longer school days/shorter holidays is already the norm in some countries, without mentioning that other countries have even longer summer breaks and shorter days than we do. Without any apparent damage to their childrens education.

MiniTheMinx Fri 19-Apr-13 09:37:30

The competing in the global economy argument is a bit of a misnomer, we have a global economy which basically means an erosion of the nation state. Capital investment goes to areas where there are skills or cheap labour. So it would be false to say that investment into education will benefit nation states, unless we start to reverse the trend towards the development of other areas of the world. That isn't going to happen.

I would welcome the longer days and shorter holidays as long as excellent extra curricular opportunities were made available. I am predictably only interested in how this might benefit children, not in how this would benefit the UK. Like Gove et al I have very little interest in how we can find ways to make the UK competitive. When Gove wakes up from his 50s inspired dream Dave might point out to him that the time has long past where investment into education directly benefits the nation state.

elliejjtiny Fri 19-Apr-13 09:40:26

If this happens I will be seriously considering homeschooling. My DS2 (year R) is physically disabled and only just manages the school day as it is. TBH I don't think DS1 (year 2) who has no SN would cope with longer hours and shorter holidays. I think decent wraparound care is a good idea for those parents who need it but I think school hours should stay as they are.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 19-Apr-13 09:42:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

teta Fri 19-Apr-13 09:48:20

My dc's have also attended school in hk.I think its the parents attitude to education which is so different in the uk.Hk children are expected to work all hours from a very young age.Uk parents want their dc's to have fun and play.I do think there is a happy medium and Uk parents need to push their children more.Parental expectation makes a huge difference.We have started to transfer our children into the private sector as expectations are so much higher.
I do think the holidays should be shifted.The weather in August is often awful and breaking up for June/July would seem to me to make more sense. I also believe younger children can't manage a longer day.What they need to do is to be taught more efficiently.Finally another major difference in the Uk is that children are not brought up to be competitive in the state system-in fact this is actively discouraged.In hk children learn to compete all the way through education, including at university.There is no sitting back and enjoying campus life for them.

MoreBeta Fri 19-Apr-13 09:49:22

I want 4 equal length terms and no half term holidays. Autumn term is far too long and should be broken in half.

I would say that summer holiday should be 4 weeks maximum and other holidays no more than 2 weeks. All schools in the UK should have exactly teh same term dates and holiday dates so everybody knows where they stand.

More after school clubs and activities including sport are what is needed not just sat behind a desk. My children are at private school and are there 8 .15 am till 5.15 pm. They have shorter terms than state school though.

It will take more resources to achieve what Gove wants and I think many/most parents will support him all the way but teachers unions will knee jerk oppose him.

indyandlara Fri 19-Apr-13 09:50:03

If we want to raise education standards than all parents need to come on board to support their own child, rather than extend the day. Please read with your child, actually talk to them, listen to them, play with them and feed them. Oh, and toilet trained would be helpful too. If children actually came into school ready to learn then perhaps school w be more successful all round.

indyandlara Fri 19-Apr-13 09:50:24


indyandlara Fri 19-Apr-13 09:51:36

God and then. Sausage fingers.

Do people really think that longer days are the answer? Surely there comes a point when children are tired and no matter how ling they are there they will learn no more?
Will they lengthen the days for all pupils? So my dd (yr1) do the same length of day as ds2 (yr6) or ds 1 (yr10) ? If she did that would be madness and if they have different length of days how on earth would parents manage?

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 09:54:00

mostly what indy said although saying that some children are at a disadvantage of no support or late nights or a chaotic homelife so perhaps a later start or finish would benefit some children?

but by the time they get to high school and exam years teens have so much going on that they need some down time and most schools offer later tutorials anyway

Dahlen Fri 19-Apr-13 10:00:09

I feel slightly grubby and huge shock at the fact that I agree with Gove on this one.

Our school system was devised to fit around an agricultural economy, and is based on the assumption that there is nearly always a primary carer at home. That world no longer exists. There is an argument that this isn't the best way to adapt to that change, but the system does need changing.

I agree with wordfactory, niceguy, and MoreBeta that if we want to improve social mobility and global competitiveness, we need more intense education and shorter holidays (every teacher I know has commented on the drop in learning that occurs during the summer holidays), but I think the best way to achieve that is through an emphasis on extra-curricular activities and learning through fun rather than being sat behind a desk all the time. Sports, for example, could be pushed a lot, which might also help the growing obesity epidemic.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:02:40

I think that proposals to increase the amount of time children spend in institutions completely overlook just how important it is for DC to have unstructured time to consolidate the skills they are introduced to at school.

How are you supposed to learn to eg manage money or time if you can never practice going to the shops or sorting out your own day?

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:05:33

"Aren't we saying we would like to help disadvantaged DC but only if it doesn't hurt our own?"

This is a very important point. It is vital to help disadvantaged DC, but it is also vital not to prevent clever and advantaged DC from learning as much as possible.

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 10:08:03

I agree Indy, education is about so much more than what is done in schools the problem is some parents leave their children at an automatic disadvantage but perhaps that shows we need to provide more support to parents as most want to help but don't always know how

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 19-Apr-13 10:11:42

Lets just pack them off to school permanently and we can parent by pen pal!!
What about the children that aren't cut out for school life? Longer days aren't going to help them, unless they were going to offer more trade skills in that time? Children need play time to learn too

Whilst I think the summer holiday is too long for one block for working parents. Especially for little ones the days long enough.

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 10:12:13

some parents don't give two hoots though sizry even with support in place they let the school deal with their children there is the minority of parents who don't care enough about their childrens education to want or go to support , it starts in early years and you can throw support and techniques at people it is really up to them to take it ,

Dahlen Fri 19-Apr-13 10:16:04

But what's happening to the children at the moment?

Mine - and most others I know - are in a childcare setting until a parent finishes work anyway.

What's different about having that at school, where at least there is continuity and the opportunity to build on skills learned at school. As long as adequate provision is made for rest and fun, I really don't see the problem.

The "it's too long" argument only works if you are in the extraordinarily privileged position of being able to pick up your DC straight from school and take them home. That's not the reality for most anymore.

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 10:16:58

But those parents are very much in the minority though, and if we can get it so that other children are getting the support they need then hopefully that will allow schools more time to focus on the children who don't get that support or who need additional support.

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:17:25

Capital investment goes to areas where there are skills or cheap labour.

I see your point but it's not as simple as that at all. My company (and my job) involves offshoring jobs from western countries elsewhere. When we select a place it's not JUST based on labour but as you say yourself, skills. There's no point in going to say Vietnam because the labour rates are low but they don't understand the first thing about our HR laws.

Ditto with engineering. China is cheap but can they design the latest microprocessors? Five years ago the answer was no. The gap is closing soon and in time they will. Why? Because they are churning engineering graduates out by the bucket load.

We are competing in a global market and I see no harm in looking into if the 6 week holidays is fit for purpose. As I said right now I'm not wholly convinced but there's no harm in considering it.

And to illustrate my earlier point that teachers seem only to like the status quo and reinforce SirChenjin's post that it seems more and more like teachers see the break as a perk rather than for the good of the children. Link

Basically teachers in Nottingham went on strike because the council changed the 6 week holidays to 5 week then 2 weeks in Oct. Personally I thought it was quite fair. I don't know about you all but I find 6 weeks far too long. Kids are bored stupid at the end of it.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:17:25

The "it's too long" argument only works if you are in the extraordinarily privileged position of being able to pick up your DC straight from school and take them home. That's not the reality for most anymore.

There isn't childcare provision after school for the majority of children, so somebody is picking them up and taking them home.

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 10:17:55

yes you are right sirzy

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 10:18:55

The difference is Dahlen that having longer school days and shorter holidays won't give provision for rest and fun - it can't otherwise what is the point of it?

Children in after school clubs can sit and chill, or run around with friends or whatever and take part in things it isn't forcing them to sit and learn for longer periods of time.

Children need time to be children.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:19:54

"I don't know about you all but I find 6 weeks far too long. Kids are bored stupid at the end of it."

Children are only going to be bored in the holidays if the parents make no provision to occupy them usefully. Schools have neither the premises nor the skills to teach DC most of what they need to learn about life. The idea of my DD spending most of her life at school makes me shudder in horror. Currently about 11% of her life is spent at school. That is plenty, given what school actually does with her.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 10:27:24

Bonsoir I was playing devil's advocate a little. Couldn't resist...

MN spends so much time beating it's breast about the poor and pointing its fingers at the evil rich, then the first time a Tory no less, suggests we do somehting that might help the DC of the poor...they don't wanna know.

Gotta love it grin.

Niklepic Fri 19-Apr-13 10:27:36

What about those children with special needs who are in mainstream school? My son has physical and learning disabilities and can only just cope with the school day as it is. Holidays give him chance to recharge his batteries. A longer school day would basically exacerbate his deteriorating condition. Moving him to a special school is not an option as all the local ones have been closed and the closest one (25 miles away) is completely oversubscribed. I'd end up home schooling and I'm not sure I'd be up to the job.

We need better and more affordable (or better still free!) childcare facilities to wrap around school times. Extending the school day is not the answer.

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 10:28:21

well children are unwinding at nursery or a childminder or after school club dahlen they are not in school mode iyswim even if they are not at home I can imagine getting to a CM from school is dump school bag have a snack and playing or homework it is different from school

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:30:14

wordfactory - I am utterly and hopelessly fed up at the moment with policies and politicians designed to "level the playing field" and prevent my DC from learning. It is so much hard work (at family level) and expense to counteract it that my sympathies with the less privileged are somewhat less than they might otherwise have been...

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 10:33:45

I get that Bonsoir.

I feel for you trying your best in the French education system. Not easy. I know you work hard at it.

I dunno what to say about it all really. I mean I'm not affected. The longer holidays work in my DC's favour and the schools they attend won't reduce, I don't think...actually I wouldn't mind a week knocking off the Summer, seven weeks would be more than sufficient.

All the extra achievements might look good on paper. But what the hell is the point if the child is an emotional and exhausted wreck. ??? We all know people who have heart attacks through stress or who have been signed off work etc. that's what happens when people sustain long periods of exhaustion, mental burn out, no time to eat properly sleep properly , Rest, unwind etc Is that what we want for our babies. To be forced to stay in school til they literally drop???

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:40:17

Children are only going to be bored in the holidays if the parents make no provision to occupy them usefully.

It's not quite as simple as that though is it?

Do you have the time, money and holidays to entertain your kids for six weeks? I know I don't.

With the best will in the world and even if my fiancee & I could take all that time off work, we certainly cannot afford to keep taking them out every day. And you can't just let them sit in front of the xbox all day either.

In the real world we have to work. And that is I think the crux of Gove's argument. We've a school system designed back in the days when kids needed to help out on farms still in existence when parents are working with about 4-5 weeks of holidays per year!

Does it need looking at? In my opinion yes. Does it mean that we automatically scrap the 6 weeks? No I don't think so.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:50:33

It doesn't cost money to take your DC out every day, and staying at home doesn't have to mean screen-based entertainment. A long lazy picnic in the park with other families and some bats and balls is a great way to spend a day. Long walks across towns or the countryside are free and incredibly enriching if you bother to teach your DC about climate, geography, architecture, flora & fauna, urban planning etc.

Sirzy Fri 19-Apr-13 10:51:17

Taking children out doesn't have to cost money though, that again comes down to lack of imagination/willingness to find things to do.

Nobody has said that more shouldn't be done to provide holiday care for families who work, but that should be based around fun not education (I know the two aren't mutually exclusive but it shouldn't be formal education)

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:53:05

I also think that lying on the sofa reading a book in pyjamas junwashed until lunchtime is a very valuable part of any childhood...

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 10:53:22

tbf not all children live in a lovely place like you do bonsoir I do agree with you about taking children out but everyday for 6 weeks you cant have picnics in parks for 6 weeks or have lovely days at home for 6 weeks, sometimes children get bored parents get bored children start to stagnate by the end of the 6 weeks,

* I also think that lying on the sofa reading a book in pyjamas junwashed until lunchtime is a very valuable part of any childhood...*

Couldn't have put it better myself!!!

Bold out fail sad

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:56:06

TBH I've never tried to keep the children at home for 6 weeks without some kind of course or holiday to break it up. But you don't have to put your DC in FT activities - next week our DC will be on holiday and DD is going to do a sculpture course from 2pm to 4pm Mon-Fri. The rest of the time will quickly get eaten up with reading, piano playing, choosing new glasses at the optician, buying some summer clothes etc.

StephaniePowers Fri 19-Apr-13 10:56:31

My summer holidays were too long. I had a working single parent and we had no money and the weather was not good enough to be out all hours and wtf is an after school club if you live basically in a cottage amongst acres of farmland?
Yes you can run about but it's not the sodding famous five!

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 10:56:35

I also think that lying on the sofa reading a book in pyjamas junwashed until lunchtime is a very valuable part of any childhood...

most of my summer holidays i didnt get dressed till lunchtime anyway

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:56:48

Yes I agree it's not all about money and we often do cheap things like going to the park.

But i don't know about you but I can't simply take 6 weeks off in the summer. I can't even take 3 weeks off expecting my OH to take 3 weeks off.

And how many families nowadays can afford one parent to be a SAHP?

That's why I'm saying we should look at the holiday system again. What's wrong with say 4 weeks in the summer and the time added to half term holidays?

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:59:08

I think social mobility will plummet for those DC who are at school almost all the time.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 10:59:48

It wouldn't feel like the holidays if I wasn't shouting at DC to get washed and dressed while serving up the pasta!

StephaniePowers Fri 19-Apr-13 11:03:03

Bonsoir why would their social mobility plummet? (Social mobility is at a low atm anyway.)

MiniTheMinx Fri 19-Apr-13 11:03:18

Niceguy I agree with a lot of your points and I think Dahlen is spot on about consistency.

If I had to have after school provision I would prefer my children have that extra care at school where there are at least some qualified staff and there is consistency and access to lots of resources.

Some of these childcare settings are lacking in quality. Ofsted are looking into the the quality of staff and training at the moment.

DS1 attends some clubs at lunch times, he loves science and maths, it would benefit him to have the choice of extra science after school. It wouldn't benefit him to have some ill educated, barely literate but kind hearted person look after him from 4-6pm. We tried this and he was quite disparaging and he dreaded it. He hated the fact that there was nothing to do and he isn't interested in trampolines and TV

I think if this was done well, with time for extra activities such as music, sport, science clubs, even engineering clubs, build robots out of scrap metal, go fishing, try fencing or archery. Anything really that didn't just involve sitting behind a desk for an extra two hours. And give the children a choice in what they pursue. many parents can't afford music lessons and in this area swimming costs just over £20 for a family.

I think with the right investment this would be very good for all children but even more so for children from deprived backgrounds.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 11:06:13

Because social mobility is more closely correlated with high levels of parental involvement than any other factor. The more you relieve parents of the "parenting burden" to state schools (private schools operate on a different premise) the worse the DCs' outcome.

IncrediblePhatTheInnkeepersCat Fri 19-Apr-13 11:12:05

I'm a teacher at a state secondary school with sixth form.

From the point of view of the children's learning, by 3pm their brains are full and they simply do not learn as well. We have lessons that go until 3.45 for all students, then lessons until 4.30 for some GCSE subjects and sixth formers, which the kids drag themselves through and take twice as long to develop the skills they need during this later time slot.

Also, by the end of term they are exhausted. A 6 week half term is about the right length. When the dates fall so that it is 7 (or God forbid 8!) weeks, their capability and enthusiasm to learn plummets.

From a teacher's perspective, yes the holidays are needed to plan, mark, rest and spend time with our own families. If Gove wants to formally extend teachers' hours, then he'll need to find hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money to fund the increase in hours as our contracts and salary are based on a fixed number of hours.

If he has this vast sum of money lying around to spend on improving education, then in my humble opinion it would be better spent on hiring more teachers and building more classrooms to reduce class sizes to preferably 20 students.

This would mean that:
- students would get more individual attention
- quality of marking would increase
- behaviour problems would be improved
- quieter pupils/shy pupils would be more likely to contribute to class discussion and develop their confidence
- less students (hopefully none!) will get lost in the middle
- hopefully more teachers stay teaching, so we get a better mix of experience. I love enthusiastic NQTs, but when a department has more NQTs than experienced staff, standards do slip.

Vote IncrediblePhat for Education Minister! grin

MiniTheMinx Fri 19-Apr-13 11:13:23

I disagree Bonsoir, you over look the fact that some children do not have actively involved parents. Now, unless someone is going to visit and supervise these parents and encourage their active participation with activities and days out, these children are left disadvantaged.

Your attitude smacks of privilege, privilege you are desperate to convey to your children at the expense of other children.

StephaniePowers Fri 19-Apr-13 11:14:52

That's interesting Bonsoir, where could I read about that?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Fri 19-Apr-13 11:15:05

Another vote here for shorter summer holiday. With the extra two weeks being tacked onto half term hols.

There was an interview on radio 4 this morning where it was admitted that poorer child do loose skills over the long summer holidays.

I would also support longer hours for older children. I also think teenagers should be able to start the school day later and finish later (it takes ages for their brains to wake up).

TeddyBare Fri 19-Apr-13 11:28:43

I just don't understand how it would work. Will they be longer days but made up of the same number of classes and then some sports and creative things after that? In which case where is the funding for specialist equipment and teachers coming from and couldn't it be spent on something else? Or is it going to be extra lessons all day, in which case when are children going to have a chance to do the fun things which make life more than just a treadmill to make profit for large corporations. And where will the money come from the supply the extra teachers to cover these hours?! If there is money to invest in education then this seems to be the wrong thing to invest it in.

I can see an argument for rearranging the school day though. I would like to see primaries starting earlier and finishing earlier as is done in Germany and the Scandinavian countries. That means children get the whole afternoon to do something outside in the fresh air, which I think it good for their health and probably teaches them to respect the environment more too. I would also like to see secondary schools starting later and with American style bus services to get all children in to school. This would reduce the traffic on the roads during rush hour and I think it would help punctuality and focus as teenagers seem to be naturally more nocturnal. I can also see arguments for rearranging the terms a bit although I would keep the ratio of school to holidays the same.

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 11:34:04

IncrediblePhat makes some very good points which should be being considered.

I'd be very interested in seeing some actual research and facts/figures on this before anything is changed. But I don't see any harm in talking about it.

StanleyLambchop Fri 19-Apr-13 11:45:26

I think if this was done well, with time for extra activities such as music, sport, science clubs, even engineering clubs, build robots out of scrap metal, go fishing, try fencing or archery. Anything really that didn't just involve sitting behind a desk for an extra two hours. And give the children a choice in what they pursue. many parents can't afford music lessons and in this area swimming costs just over £20 for a family.

That is a lovely idea, but how would it all be funded? Most teachers are not experts in archery, fishing, fencing. So expertise would have to be bought in. Music & swimming are currently not free activities (not at our school anyway) I can just see the school times changing, it being compulsary, and then suddenly the requests come to parents for extra money to fund the extra activities.

BTW, I pay for music lessons outside of school for my DD, the quality of teaching is much better, it is one-to-one and you don't waste 15 minutes of every lesson trying to find an available room and a music stand. I don't see any benefit to her in going back to school music lessons , but under Gove's plans there would barely be time left in the evening for her to have any private music lessons.sad

soverylucky Fri 19-Apr-13 11:51:09

I have no problem at all with outside providers using school premises and facilities for extra curricular activities at the begining and end of the school day. These should be optional and would be very valuable for some children from disadvantaged backgrounds but give children the option to pursue other activities or simply spend some time with their friends or family having a rest.

School is there to educate our children not to childmind. I chose to have children and so it is my responsibility to sort out childcare - not the teachers. Teacher morale is at an all time low. The long summer holiday is a perk of the job but it seems that Gove wants to remove every single perk from the job that there is.

I agree so much with pp who commented that if you really want to improve standards then lets recruit more teachers, build more schools and have much smaller class sizes. I teach a subject that requires me to mark extended pieces of writing. I am part time and have six classes. Five of those classes have lessons with me twice a week and one has three lessons a week. The KS3 classes therefore complete two pieces of classwork and one piece of homework a week. The GCSE class complete 3 pieces of classwork and two pieces of homework. There is a minimum of 29 students in each class - some of the classes are bigger. This means that I have at least 580 pieces of work to mark per week. I also have to complete reports at certain times of the year, attend parents evenings, plan lessons, create resources for lessons - anything from a PowerPoint presentation to a card sort or a role play. I signed up for this. I knew this was the deal and tbh I am used to it. I do not have the time or the energy to do more.
I suspect that Gove will expect teachers to do longer days on the same pay. He has dismantled the national pay structure so it will be quite easy to do this. Terms and conditions change in the private sector all the time. You will not get teachers staying long term. We will lose experienced teachers and the education of our children will suffer.

StephaniePowers Fri 19-Apr-13 11:56:47

Really, more schools, more teachers and smaller class sizes would solve a lot of ills anyway, without messing about with the traditional timetable. sad

When you think about it, it's the obvious option, yet it isn't being done in any sort of meaningful way. So one can only assume that this latest idea has been floated to make it look like the problems are so complex that it takes a paradigm shift to solve them. But really, the problems are fairly simple and it takes nothing more than money and will.

Fakebook Fri 19-Apr-13 12:11:10

I think it's a good idea. Bring back the grammar school system in all the counties too. Children always find time to have "fun". School was much tougher in the old days, yet children still were able to climb trees and do childish things. I disagree with most things this government propose, but our education system really is in tatters and it desperately needs rescuing.

StanleyLambchop Fri 19-Apr-13 12:15:16

School was much tougher in the old days, yet children still were able to climb trees and do childish things.

But they were not at school until 5.30 in the evenings in the 'old days'.

NomDeOrdinateur Fri 19-Apr-13 12:15:58

Aside from anything else, isn't this going to make "family time" unattainable for most state school users (who aren't teachers)? Leave during the school summer and Christmas holidays is already restricted in most professions, and retail staff often struggle to get any leave at all at Easter on top of the other restrictions. If we cut down the holidays any further then there probably won't be enough slack left in the system to allow parents to take more than a couple of days each holiday, and the result is likely to be that children have very few experiences of days out with both of their parents. I think that would impact very negatively on families' quality of life, and children's ability to learn through imitation about relationships, parenting etc.

I agree with Gove that a more structured and educational programme of wrap-around and holiday care on school premises would be beneficial, but I don't think it should be teacher-led desk-work. I'd like to see more active learning (e.g. Science Club, French Club, Drama Club, Debating Club, Cooking Club, School Newspapers etc), computer-based learning, and emphasis on sports (NOT competitive sport as Gove has previously suggested, but exercise like Zumba, yoga, swimming, pilates, and martial arts that most children can actually sustain throughout their lives in order to keep fit). Some of that (e.g. the Zumba type exercise classes) could be run by franchises, and some could be led by trainee/newly qualified but unemployed teachers.

I probably wouldn't make it compulsory, but I would make it significantly cheaper than childcare (due to economies of scale), available to all, and possibly issue a certificate for X credits of Language, IT, Health and Fitness, Communication and Life Skills taken per year. That would make it attractive to everybody who aren't able/available do those sorts of activities with their children themselves, I think, and still leave the flexibility for family time. It might well cost a lot to get started, but it would eliminate the need for most government-subsidised childcare and reduce unemployment, and I think it would be beneficial to the quality and health of our labour force.

NomDeOrdinateur Fri 19-Apr-13 12:20:07

Urgh - should not have tried to edit that sentence whilst talking to DH! I meant "all those who aren't," obviously...

Squarepebbles Fri 19-Apr-13 13:03:53

Don't buy the argument that kids can't amuse themselves for 6 weeks.

They can however I think parents are too used to kids engaging in passive screen activities that make little noise or mess.

If you don't flick a switch every time your child gets bored they will learn to amuse themselves quite happily for very little cost.

cornydash Fri 19-Apr-13 13:06:51

'School was much tougher in the old days'

I don't think it was. I think that's a myth.

DadOnIce Fri 19-Apr-13 13:13:33

Extending the school term by two weeks means 10 extra teaching days per school, for every full-time teaching post. That's thousands of pounds extra for every school in the country. The additional funding required for this is going to run into billions.

Squarepebbles Fri 19-Apr-13 13:16:17

Yes wouldn't it be better to fund holiday provision for the minority of children who are from dysfunctional families instead.confused

DadOnIce Fri 19-Apr-13 13:17:39

Or just fund optional holiday provision in general? More than just dysfunctional families will want it.

Meringue33 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:24:54

Gove is a horrible person. The worst thing about my childhood was school. The best thing about my childhood was playing outdoors in fields and rivers, every day after school and all through the summer.

Yes standards have slipped but its all about the quality of teaching, not the quantity!! And more free child care places would help support parental employment more (oh and more employers offering flexible working!)

In Germany, I think the school day is around 8-1 or 8-2, and everyone does sports each afternoon.

NomDeOrdinateur Fri 19-Apr-13 13:32:59

Squarepebbles and DadOnIce - I see where you're coming from and I agree with you that it's a good idea.

However, I tentatively agree with Gove that there aren't enough hours in the school day to preserve traditionally valued subjects (e.g. RE, History, PE, Music, Art) and address the skills gaps which are placing students at an increasing disadvantage in the global labour market (e.g. Modern Foreign Languages, STEM), as well as addressing the problems with literacy that come from increased class sizes and more pupils who speak English as a second language. I also agree with him that schools do play a role as state-subsidised childcare now, and that it should be expanded and made more educational.

It could be beneficial to restructure the school day so that academic rigour (Literacy, Numeracy, Science, History, MFL) happens between 9am and 2pm, and more active learning through play/experimentation (PE, IT, Art, Music, Drama, Debating, Science experiments/fieldwork, MFL roleplay etc) happens between 2pm and 5.30pm. Of course, that would have be be accompanied by a significant reduction in homework and testing in order to preserve family time and children's mental health, but I think it would probably result in significant educational gains...

persimmon Fri 19-Apr-13 13:34:55

I'm a teacher and the mother of a schoolchild.

The kids I teach and my DS are knackered by the end of school each day. At the end of term some of the kids can't really function in the classroom any more. They NEED a break, as do the teachers.

We need to stop regarding school as childcare. That's the root of the problem IMO. Ramming yet more lessons into the kids is not the answer either. We instigated extra spelling lessons in our school as there were concerns about the kids' spelling. After a year, none of the English teachers have noticed any real difference in their spelling levels.

NomDeOrdinateur Fri 19-Apr-13 13:50:55

Persimmon - I'd love to agree with you (seriously), but AFAIK state schooling was implemented as a form of childcare in this country, and most parents now are dependent on it as childcare because they can't afford not to work, or to pay for full-time childcare for their offspring from 6m-14 years old.

I think we need to accept that state schools are supposed to be the gold standard in childcare - schools take care of the minds as well as the bodies of the future labour force and, in so doing, schools are supposed to cultivate competent, hard-working, and highly skilled workers who know how to exist within society and take care of their mental and physical health (to the full extent they are able to do so). IMO, schools play a very important role in making childcare beneficial to children in ways that other providers can't/won't because they lack the qualifications, resources, and incentive. As such, we should be prepared to invest a lot of money in making it run well.

However, I think we need to start seeing schools as community settings in which lots of different kinds of professionals deal with the various aspects of that childcare. Teachers are the most important, but franchised sports, technology, IT, and music providers (who rotate equipment and qualified trainers between schools) could make a very beneficial contribution to play-based learning after the academic part of the day is over, and serve as a better alternative to childminders and after-school clubs. If homework was reduced and uptake of these services was incentivised but largely optional, would children be any worse off than they are now? I think most of them would end up happier and better qualified, and the changes would probably result in higher employment and better working conditions for teachers.

I know this isn't what Gove has in mind, but I do think he has identified a real problem which we need to be a little more pragmatic and inventive about solving.

Asheth Fri 19-Apr-13 14:03:15

I assume Gove has the money to pay teachers to work for two hours extra a day, every teaching day plus the extra weeks? He'll need to employ extra teachers as well, as all the extra time will mean teachers will need more planning and preparation time. Oh, did someone say budget deficit?

soverylucky Fri 19-Apr-13 14:14:33

Schooling was not implemented as a source of childcare in this country. Great men like Robert Owen knew that the education of all was the way to improve a society. When school became compulsory people thought nothing of leaving very young children on their own either in the home or in the fields - childcare didn't really exist. Even when I was a child in the 80's it was not uncommon for some children to take themselves to school and home again and wait for their parents to come home - some very young too. I can remember having my own door key from about 9 years of age. To say that compulsory was introduced as childcare is simply not true.

soverylucky Fri 19-Apr-13 14:14:53

compulsory schooling - that is what I meant to say!

soverylucky Fri 19-Apr-13 14:16:14

asheth he will expect teachers to do this without a pay increase. Not sure where the money will come from to pay for the heating, the lighting, the extra paper etc

OhLori Fri 19-Apr-13 14:18:59

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

SinisterBuggyMonth Fri 19-Apr-13 14:19:44

I think as adults we have become somewhat complacent about how full on education can be. Training sessions at work or learning a new jobs can be incredibly tiring, kids are effectively going throughe training their entire schooling life, the need a break.

6 weeks summer hols was the best thingo about my childhood. He is becoming like a pantomime villian. $ Slithy Gove

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 14:23:32

My really cynical side thinks it's a way of pushing parents into working more hours, probably for the same pay - their children will be at school.

I hated school and probably would have gone mad if I was there for that length of time. DD doesn't particularly enjoy it either, and values her time at home and doing other things.

takeaway2 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:42:13

I agree that the 6 week summer holiday is too long. Dh and I are full time employed but have flexible time. Having said that with DS in reception this year we've had a shock of our lives as to the amount of organizing we've needed to do for my son in terms of childcare. Our school has also not been the most cooperative or helpful so we've relied on friends, tennis club (at school) and other combinations.

I think having a longer day at the school site is great for working parents especially those without the grandparents and others hanging around who can go pick up the child. That way said child can do tennis, newspapers, debate, chess, languages etc, science clubs etc.

It's not learning in the classroom, it's learning through activity. It benefits their curiosity, it helps working parents and it can combat alot of the criticisms the uk gets from the rest of the world (obesity rates, language learning, science and math achievements etc).

And no of course I don't expect the reception school teacher to be teaching tennis, or chess! These things can be outsourced to the professionals who do things like that already. As if said teacher can and wants to teach art or violin then fine! All the better but he/she ought to be compensated just as you would if you brought in a violin teacher.

And those who feel that 9-3 is long enough, then can continue to pick your child up at 3.

MiniTheMinx Fri 19-Apr-13 14:53:15

It could be beneficial to restructure the school day so that academic rigour (Literacy, Numeracy, Science, History, MFL) happens between 9am and 2pm, and more active learning through play/experimentation (PE, IT, Art, Music, Drama, Debating, Science experiments/fieldwork, MFL roleplay etc) happens between 2pm and 5.30pm. Of course, that would have be be accompanied by a significant reduction in homework and testing in order to preserve family time and children's mental health, but I think it would probably result in significant educational gains...

YES ! I would be in favour of children having an active voice in deciding which subjects, clubs and activities interest them. It would allow for some very academically able children to spend extra time on sciences or even art if that is where their talent lies but those who love sport could pursue that interest. I don't think all of the activities would need to be led by qualified teachers. Why not bring in outside specialists, even from the business sector to teach computer programming or engineering. I also think that homework club, debating club, some sports and things like gardening or sewing don't require any particular expertise and unqualified or student teachers could run these sorts of activities very easily.

takeaway2 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:59:05

And for our first 6 week summer holiday, DS will be going to summer camp 3 weeks, holiday 2 weeks and one week of whatever in between.

For the last few half terms we've had, we have paid for holiday club (run by school) and football camp (run by people who rent the private school premises down the road). Every half term, he's probably had one day off. I feel sorry for him in comparison to his friends who have sahp. But he hasn't complained and comes home still full of energy.

And this has been the pace of his life since he was 6 months old...

Hulababy Fri 19-Apr-13 14:59:32

5:30pm finish?

When will the children eat their meals?
Many infant school children would struggle to wait until 6-6:30pm for their dinner in an evening, especially when bedtime is 7-7:30pm.

LaQueen Fri 19-Apr-13 14:59:38

Totally agree with ncieguy2's post on the first page.

It's all very naice, to want children (and teachers) to have long, endless, empty summer holidays to relax in...

But umpty million children in Asia, have got their heads down at school, they are very, very focused and they are working damned hard.

Pinkbatrobi Fri 19-Apr-13 15:00:22

The problem is the man understands NOTHING about education and how it works. People who make it to management should understand WHAT it is they are trying to manage. Ask him to go talk with 200 teachers, get him to teach a class of 15 year olds in an inner city school... Let's see if he makes the same proposals. I can't stand the bloke.. Does it show? LOL

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 15:02:39

In France, children aged from 3.8 go to school for six hours a day, with either 1.5 or 2 hours at lunch (often at the canteen) - an 8.30-4.30 day is typical. But they have Wednesday off - and gosh do they need it when they are little.

There are now reforms starting to make DC go to school on Wednesday mornings and to vaguely reduce the school day but in reality in won't make a lot of difference. Some children are going to be VERY tired.

Hulababy Fri 19-Apr-13 15:02:47

Said same on other two threads:

What is need is better more reasonably priced warp around childcare located within the school building, not a longer school day/year for those who do not require it.

Have qualified and trained specialist instructors for various sports, drama, music, art, etc to run activities.

Have trained playworkers to facilitate children just having the chance to relax, chill out and play their own non directed games.

It is childcare that working parents are wanting. That is not the same as schooling.

Hulababy Fri 19-Apr-13 15:03:53

LaQueen - and where is the positive in that for those children who are forced to be working throughout the long summer months and into the evenings?

LaQueen Fri 19-Apr-13 15:06:46

Hula I think the long term that they will be equally as well educated as the umpty millions of school children in Asia, and so will stand a chance of still getting a viable career in 10-15 years time.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:08:15

Nom the school day you describe is similar to my DDs.

She gets to school around 8am and attends choir until 8.30am (now that's a super way to start the day ).

There's registration etc and assembly.

Lessons start at 8.45.
They carry on until 2.45 when there is always sport or drama or art or whatever.
School finishes at 4.30pm.

There are clubs every day after school. Not everyone attends of course, but they can. Or they can go and do their prep in the library.

Most Saturdays there are sports fixtures or training and pupils taking art based subjects are free to use the studios.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 15:08:19

Quite, hula. International competition be damned, I'm not sure I want the all-work-no-play joyless work ethic of (some) East Asian childhoods for British children. We are forgetting that there is far more to life than work, learning and striving for stuff we may or may not even get.

Badvoc Fri 19-Apr-13 15:08:38

My children work hard at school.
And they are both more than ready for any holiday that comes around!
I do agree the summer holiday is too long, but so is the xmas term.
Maybe all terms should be a set length?
And max hol of 4 weeks?

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:13:58

pinkbatrobi what Gove is describing is how KIPP schools work in the US. And they are situated in inner cities that would make Tower Hamlets look leafy...

Their results are stellar.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:19:53

Themsmallclanger whilst that's a nice and rather easy thing to say... what's harder is working out how this generation of DC will house, clothe and feed themselves.

The middle is shrinking away. Those nice-but-not-to-stressful jobs are all but disappearing.

Our DC will face unprecedented costs; university debts, high house prices, high food costs, high fuel bills. I suspect they will be fully responsible for their pension provision (would eat my shorts if state pension still exists before 70), and partially responsible for health provision (I'd eat my shorts if the NHS remains in tact).

And public services and welfare will be eroded.

Those who are going to have comfortable lives will have to compete very very hard to get it!

Hulababy Fri 19-Apr-13 15:27:50

I just think how sad for children to see their childhood eroded away.
Little mini robots destined for the grindstone from age 4y.

And this is progress.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:29:17

Sad for middle class children wink.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 15:30:33

There are other ways of doing things. This obsession with competing and achieving is already destroying many people's mental health. We need to redefine what we think of as "success".

There aren't enough supposedly-fulfilling jobs to go round, and I think many more people will have to come to realise that having some money coming in, if not lots, is preferable to endless internships, followed by pressure and stupid hours which means that personal relationships may as well not exist. It isn't a viable long-term strategy.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:34:18

Thesmallclanger it's simply not right that all high achievers are stressed out basket cases.

I know mostly high achievers and they're generally a cheerful lot grin.

And let's be frank, the rate of family breakdown and mental health problems is worse among the poor than the rich!

chaime Fri 19-Apr-13 15:34:33

I do think the summer holidays are far too long but then so are some of the school terms. In an ideal world, I'd like my kids to be off school no longer than 3 weeks at a time with more regular mini-breaks during term-time. I'm a teacher and as it is, it's a struggle to get keep some of the kids in learning mode in the mugginess of July when they would be better off playing...and even worse getting most of the kids back into learning mode come September...I really feel it's three steps back, one step forward at that time of year.

However this isn't an ideal world and shoe-horning kids into longer school days and cutting holidays is just sellotaping over the underlying social and cultural problems prevalent in society, especially at the most disadvantaged end. Here there is a definite pride in underachievement, and Gove can throw about silly policies about all he likes but the truth is he needs to be working more closely with the Culture Secretary and doing more to help the sinking working-class economy (and improving their vocational expectations right from age 3 upwards - it's never too early to begin careers advice as it significantly impacts on personal academic goals and achievement). Education and skill-building for most people (maybe excepting entrepreneurs) directly affects their vocation which directly affects the economy which finally has made far too many people in society apathetic about their vocational options.

In a nutshell, Gove can't get kids achieving more until he sorts out societal attitudes and shows he's doing something to help them out of their perceived gutter.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 15:36:32

word, I never said that "high achievers" were all stressed-out. It's the constant pressure to achieve that is stressing many of us out, for different reasons.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 15:38:10

And somehow, high achieving, which by its nature only happens to a few because it's proportional, has been made into a virtue that lots of people do not have the skills or the wherewithal to live up to.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:43:29

chaime I wonder if Gove's mind is actually on the disadvanatged at all! Call me cynical but I suspect not wink.

I wonder if in fact he isn't concerned about the middle classes. The traditional Tory heartland. These are the folk who are happily complacent, expecting life to continue, utterly in denial about the turning tide...folk who really have more in common with the working class if only they could bear to see it!

chaime Fri 19-Apr-13 15:46:26

Mm that's a good point TheSmallClanger, I'm sure the Government doesn't have the goal of all kids being high-fliers, but they will want all kids to feel fulfilled at least. And for all kids to feel fulfilled by the time they reach adulthood, they must have access to the same opportunities that advantaged kids have had.

Unfortunately many miss out on these opportunities even if they're offered because the kids don't think they're worthy of them ('Training to be a professional [whatever] isn't what my family do' or 'doing cultural stuff is gay' etc. etc.) and so their own expectations of themselves are so dismal. Again, they need role models! I thought there would be good things to come out of the Olympics for kids but sadly I don't think it's followed through on its initial promise...not round here anyway.

chaime Fri 19-Apr-13 15:52:14

The working classes could be said to have once been complacent when they had steady industrial jobs that we once thought would go on forever. Now I don't think there is such a thing as a stable working class and everyone is under pressure to be constantly upwardly socially mobile because the opportunities for those lower down the payscale are dwindling (lack of investment in engineering/industry, badly hit retail sector etc.)

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 15:54:04

Constant upward mobility is not actually possible. At least, not without something resembling a slave class. We need to address this somehow - basic jobs deserve protection.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 15:57:29

That's what I was getting at chaime

The middle class lifestyle is under attack and many middle class folk will be forced to join the working classes competeing for low paid work and resources...or propel themselves into the next tier up

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 16:00:10

It is not possible to simply "propel yourself into the next tier up" for most people. That is one of the great lies of Thatcherism and its related philosophies.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 16:05:28

Thee are things you can do to give yourself the best chance...and the middle classes are best placed to be able to do it.

Whether they will do it is debateable.

chaime Fri 19-Apr-13 16:08:04

Eek, the only way I can see myself propelling myself upwards is by starting a business! Thatcher would be proud. This is what she wanted from us all.

And I'll be damned if I end up as Headteacher of a god-awful Gove Academy

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 16:09:08

I guess in this context I'm thinking not so much about what our generation can do, more what our DC can do

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 16:12:16

I think you are being unfair to the MC, wordfactory. The MC are under huge pressure in the UK - they are taxed to the hilt yet their incomes are not all that high and they bear the full brunt of house prices, university tuition fees, pension provision etc. I don't think they are comfortably complacent - I think they work very hard and don't really know what they can on a personal level to escape a fairly relentless treadmill and a bleak-looking future.

I agree that there is complacency in the UK, but not particularly among the MC.

Gubbins Fri 19-Apr-13 16:12:47

Given that the best results in this country come from private schools with the same length days and longer holidays than the state sector, I'm not entirely convinced that the causal links he's claiming really exist. The link I see between private schools here and tutored children in the far east is class sizes. Shame Gove wants to increase those.

LaQueen Fri 19-Apr-13 16:15:20

"I'm not sure I want the all-work-no-play joyless work ethic of (some) East Asian childhoods for British children. We are forgetting that there is far more to life than work, learning and striving for stuff we may or may not even get."

Clanger - yes, of course there is more to life than work...but, it's very, very hard to enjoy all those other non work-related pleasures, when you're really struggling to get jobs/career...can't really afford to pay for accommodation...don't know where your next £10 is coming from.

It's very hard to take solace in a simple country walk...or a leisurely picnic with friends, when you know you can't pay the rent/mortgage that month.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 16:15:57

The length of the school day and the duration of holidays seems to have become the international educational benchmark of choice. Frankly, it is pathetic in the extreme to think that timetables have such a huge impact on educational outcomes. What goes on in the classroom is an awful lot more important than when. But I'm not sure our politicians are able to grasp the what. Educational content for children is so far removed from their own spheres of experience.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 16:17:10

There's a difference between having a job and having a super-high-achieving super-duper career. We have been tricked into constantly aiming higher. Having enough to be getting on with is under-rated.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 19-Apr-13 16:17:45

Michael Gove was NEVER a child, he was born old.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 16:18:13

The "having enough" jobs pay less and less, though. That's the problem.

Fargo86 Fri 19-Apr-13 16:18:23

Surely the point of school is the end product, what kind of adults are produced at the end of it all? Gove is right. Teachers are always moaning about something or other. If they don't like it they can ship out and find another job!

LaQueen Fri 19-Apr-13 16:19:29

Clanger but if our school children aren't prepared to work as hard as Asia, then they won't even have the luxury of having enough to be getting on with.

There is already a huge glut of graduates serving behind bars...working in shoe shops...stacking supermarket shelves.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 16:19:40

Fargo86 - with that attitude, there will soon be no teachers. In France, more teachers are currently recruited into the profession that have failed their professional teaching certificate than have passed it!

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 16:20:54

Then that's the problem that needs addressing, not accepting the problem and pushing a generation of confused and stressed children into aspirations they have little chance of achieving.

Businesses that use unfair employment practices such as zero-hours contracts, gangmaster labour and permatemps should be penalised. Any party that brought in measures like this would get my vote.

chaime Fri 19-Apr-13 16:21:42

Gubbins small class sizes have some benefits, but I don't think it's the main solution. I've taught classes of 20 pupils in the state sector (small ex-mining village) who were low-achievers, and classes of similar size in the private sector (wealthy London suburb). The difference between them was all about their community and family outlook.

I think the main reason private schools tend to get better results is that the children are expected to achieve more from their families and peer groups. They feed off competition much as the kids in the far east do - they're fiercely competitive over there. Kids are naturally competitive but if we can channel that into academic/vocational achievement for all kids then that would be ace.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 16:22:23

We also need to re-evaluate what university education is for.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Apr-13 16:22:53

People need more support to be self-employed. So much better to be your own boss - and gosh do I prefer using small businesses as my suppliers.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 16:24:17

Your'e probably right Bonosir and I'm being uncharitable.

I do find the middle classes an interesting conundrum though!!!

Their heartland is eroding daily and yet they are still so afraid of change, and they're so fearful of putting themselves or their DC under any pressure, when to be poor (which I have been) is the worst pressure imaginable.

I have lots of friends who are immigrants and their observations tend to be along the same lines. Sometimes quite suprised by the lack of old fashioned chutzpah.

MrsHoarder Fri 19-Apr-13 16:30:03

Of course one good way to encourage self-employment is with a good national insurance safety net so people feel that they can take that risk without fretting about how to feed their children if it goes wrong.

As for competing with Asia, how about discouraging "wasting" school time. In some schools that would free almost an extra 6 weeks once the beginning and end of terms have been taken into account. Plus maybe shortening holidays for secondary school where they should be building up to full-time working hours anyway.

LaQueen Fri 19-Apr-13 16:35:40

Agree with you WF about being poor is the worst pressure.

We've been on our absolute uppers before now, not knowing where the next £5 is coming from - eating beans on toast 4 nights a week - lying awake at night feeling sick with worry, etc (when DH's first business went to the wall).

DH puts himself under pressure to succeed, every day - because the alternative is much worse.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Fri 19-Apr-13 16:48:53

NiceGuy, it doesn't take money to entertain children whilst also teaching them. My DC's enjoy going to the local country park (and I'm in a town) with a guide book to identify insects, or trees, or birds, or flowers. The books cost a couple of quid from the Book People, I don't have to pay bus fare as it's only a short walk away, we take a picnic.

I can teach my DC's things that aren't part of the school curriculum during the summer holidays, I can play board games with them, get thrashed on computer games by them, go to the library to do the summer reading challenge, work through workbooks on areas that their teachers have pointed out as particular weaknesses, work more intensively on DD and DS2's physiotherapy, play badminton and football in the garden with them, have water fights...

Why would I want LESS school holidays and a longer school day? confused

I CAN see the point in cutting the summer holidays down to 4 weeks - but ONLY if those extra two weeks are put onto, say, the October half term and the May/June half term.

Other than how the holidays are spread out, I am happy with the amount of weeks my DC's aren't at school for.

And as for longer Just no.

riskit4abiskit Fri 19-Apr-13 17:43:23

What about those who really dislike school or are bullied? They live for the holidays. Agree with posters who comment on how tired kids are NOW by 3pm, the brain can only take so much in!

Think back to the last training course for work that you did, if you have that sort of job, and I can guarantee you were knackered by the end of the day. That's how kids feel.

Plus I also agree about price of holidays going up, and everyone at YOUR workplace competing for the same couple of weeks off, it would be a nightmare!

lecce Fri 19-Apr-13 17:46:54

Of course we need to prepare our dc to compete in the global market to ensure they are well-placed to take advantages of any opportunities on offer.

Why anyone thinks that the best way to do this is to shove them into school for longer, when many if those who are most in need of all the help they can get can barely cope with the current hours, I don't know. Someone upthread said that teenagers' brains take longer to wake up confused. As a teacher I can tell you that is utter rubbish. They are far more attentive in the morning than the afternoon and I dread to imagine what some of the pupils I teach would be like by 5pm.

Moreover, how will forcing teachers, unwilling, to sharply increase their workload with no extra pay assure our dc of future success? It won't, will it? Most teachers I know are exhausted all the time by the end of term and need a holiday almost as much as the pupils. Oh, and these extra hours are to be worked until we are 70, are they? Yes, that will be a really high-quality education being delivered.

And what about teachers' families, or don't they count? When will I have any time, or energy, to do stimulating activities with my dc (or even just veg out with them a bit)if those are the hours I will be working? I agree with Bonsoir that time spent with families is enriching, but it won't be if people are run into the ground.

If we are concerned about our dc's future (as we should be) we need to be pouring money into education, enabling the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers and the creation of smaller class sizes, as well as doing something about those groups in society who curently feel education has nothing to offer them, working with parents while their dc are young - surestart with bells on.

Instead, Gove is determined to absolutely wreck the teaching profession and ensure that no one who had any other option at all would even consider going in to it. I teach 6th formers and, for the first time this year, when a few have asked me whether I would recommend a career in teaching, I have had to consider and word my answer very carefully indeed. What I want to say is 'No fucking way - don't do it.' sad.

sherazade Fri 19-Apr-13 17:52:28

I'm sorry but we are raising children who are to be compassionate, happy forgers of a better world; not machines without consciences. Not pointing my fingers at a particular part of the world or anything but hmm at some of this adulation to the far east. Can't think what unspeakable damage this would do to family structures if we get to spend less and less time with our children, and both parents and children being more exhausted than they are already.

Fargo86 Fri 19-Apr-13 17:54:23

Teaching is still a very well paid job with plenty of perks. And fairly easy to get into compared with many other professions. There are plenty of graduates serving coffee, waiting tables and washing cars for a living.

wordfactory Fri 19-Apr-13 18:00:29

No one on this thread has shown any adulation of the East have they?

Just stating the facts as to what is happening there in education and training. Not passing comment.

And having spent Easter in another BRIC country, let me tell you, the East aint on its own.

chaime Fri 19-Apr-13 18:01:35

Teaching is the equivalent less than minimum wage for NQT's with the amount of hours they have to put in.

Although I have to say for those (is it less than 50% now?) of teachers who do stick it out past their NQT year, things get a lot better except for all the shitty new initiatives that don't work and lack of consistency and expectation that you'll take on more and more responsibility and pay freezes

SuffolkNWhat Fri 19-Apr-13 18:07:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BeQuicksieorBeDead Fri 19-Apr-13 18:34:32

Please dont swallow Gove's propaganda... We are not falling down the global league tables at all, and he had his wrist slapped by the office of national statistics for saying so. He will point at any nation's education system to make any point - not too long ago he was pointing out how great American charter schools are, that a1 being panned by America!

Comparisons have to have culture considered - in Asia teachers are respected and not rubbished by the government. Many high performing European countries have longer holidays and shorter school days...but their languages, phonics and spelling takes literally years less to master than English as a first language.

Class size has a massive impact, more than any other factor. But this would involve building more schools and training more teachers instead of slagging them off.

If you want to see more about Gove and misreporting statistics, google Gove vs. reality... Sorry can't link on my phone.

LaQueen Fri 19-Apr-13 18:42:16

Like I said on another similar thread.

I think children should start school earlier (young kids are usually up early, and at their brightest in the mornings) so, say 8.00am...and then finish school at 1.30pm.

So, a shorter school day - but, then we should shorten the school holidays, too. So a maximum of 6 weeks off per year.

Teachers could then work a regular working day of 8-5. But use their child free time, from 1.00pm onwards every day to do marking, prep, paperwork etc.

takeaway2 Fri 19-Apr-13 18:48:01

Ok. I'm from one of those East Asian countries and was educated there till my first degree. I went to one of the top primary schools then secondary and then sixth form college. I then did my first degree there.

So. As a graduand of that system I agree with him (much as I think he's talking nonsense alot of the time especially regarding the arts) in that the children over there study very very hard. They may seem not to have alot of a life but they do. I remember a childhood with a lot of play particularly with siblings and cousins. I also remember Saturday mornings of piano classes, then swimming. Tennis on Sunday followed by church.

When it was decided by school that my other first language was not up to standard, I had extra remedial classes after school conducted by the teacher and told to do extra homework. During holidays I had to do more such homework and we had sheets and sheets of homework of all sorts (science, math, English etc).

That was over 20 years ago. If you thought that was intense... The kids these days (kids of family and friends) are going through the same thing and the competition is more intense. Because there is much competition from the middle class and richer people from china and India.

You wonder about the Chinese and Indians in this country who come over to do their uni degrees. Alot of them use the nearby East Asian countries as stepping stones doing their primary and secondary education there. Alot of them win scholarships from these countries because they are that good.

Imagine the competition if you were a 10 year old living there. Facing competition from not only your fellow countrymen, but also those able to relocate from those other countries previously deemed as poor and developing.

Of course you have to work doubly hard. There is no choice. Especially if the culture is such that education is key and plenty of your relatives are doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals.

I'll be back. Kids fighting now!

Hulababy Fri 19-Apr-13 18:48:34

This document makes a comparison of school hours and how it is spent, across key stages, for a range of developing countries

soverylucky Fri 19-Apr-13 18:57:26

fargo How much do you think a teacher should be paid? An NQT? A teacher with ten years experience and rated outstanding by OFSTED? A HOD?

BatmanLovesVodkaAndCherryade Fri 19-Apr-13 19:13:55

Gove versus reality

He is a frightening man. He has the power to do great damage to the education system. Yes, improvements are needed (such as giving teachers time to embed initiatives before rolling out the Next Big Thing), but treating children as Duracell-powered automatons is absolutely not one of them.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 19:38:44

He will get the teachers he deserves-those that can do other things will vote with their feet and leave. It has already changed-the days when teachers started at 21yrs and worked through to retirement have gone. They start and change or come into it later. They can only work at the present stress levels if they have the holidays. Demoralised, frazzled teachers are not good for children! (especially when the children are also overtired, with no time to chill out and do nothing).

thermalsinapril Fri 19-Apr-13 19:56:45

I think the school day is long enough already for children (and teachers!). Children need to balance the formality of school with less structured time to use their own initiative and imagination in free play, deciding what they'd like to do etc.

Midlifecrisisarefun Fri 19-Apr-13 21:00:30

It, surely, depends on how the day is structured too. DS1 now 25 went to a prep school that had a day from 8.30 -6pm but it was a more relaxed day than his state primary. Morning break was half an hour, with a snack like bread and spreads and drink. Lunch was a cooked meal. After lunch, they had a rest period, older boys used it for music practice too. They had games every afternoon. Another break/snack mid afternoon. Activities, like cooking, modelling, etc and prep later afternoon. Day boys then went home and boarders had their evening meal. They had Saturday morning school too followed by school matches. It was very structured but the boys still built dens, rode bikes, rollerbladed and had free time to just relax/muck around. Incidentally at state school he was never 'tired', he did get into trouble for being disruptive though! That reappeared when he went to a senior school with ordinary school hours! hmm

CoolCadbury Fri 19-Apr-13 21:08:02

I have a theory about Gove's agenda with longer days/shorter holidays. I think he is just after the shorter holidays.

I think the longer days has been put in there because when the shorter holidays finally happens, everyone will heave a sigh of relief and say well at least the longer days didn't happen.

Or maybe I am talking crap.

He wants children to "work" longer hours than their parents? He so wants to break the power of the unions that he's lost sight of the real agenda:children. He really doesn't give a shit about children, ita all about point scoring.

And it really pisses me off that David Cameron does not stop Gove, which obviously means that they have the same views.

CoolCadbury Fri 19-Apr-13 21:10:35

midlife. State schools would not be able to afford all that down time (although I think children need that), especially with having to meet all the targets.

edwardsmum11 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:19:17

Gove worries me, especially if his mad plans go through before my son starts school. I'm guessing he was privately educated and is now doing a number on state schools.

DrCoconut Fri 19-Apr-13 21:54:47

The summer holiday is too short as it is. There is never enough time to do everything you want. My DS is never bored and loves being away from school. It is respite for him, and for me by association, from having to cope with the NT world while having SN. I go to work but not having to nag him out of bed and march him to school is a godsend. There must be other children who love simply chilling at home and parents who are quite happy with this. As for redistributing holidays, how does this save child care costs if the overall hours are the same? confused

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 21:59:34

I remember the joy if the summer holiday as a child- all that time spread out in front of you with nothing particularly to do- you never get it again. I loved it as a parent too.

I think shorter summer holidays is long overdue. It will benefit many children and create a more level playing field between middle class and working class kids. I'm surprised its not getting more support here- maybe the middle class don't wish to see the gap made smaller...

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 22:05:57

I don't mind the summer one getting shorter as long as it goes on somewhere else.

DrCoconut Fri 19-Apr-13 22:26:59

I don't see the point of having more holidays in October or February when the weather is likely to be awful and it's not light at night. In the summer you stand a better chance of some quality time as a family even if it's just a barbecue in the garden with a naice bottle of wine for the parents! And less scope for holidays in summer will put more pressure on working parents as leave at work will be harder to arrange. I would like to see at least 8 weeks in the summer and less in the winter though I agree that the autumn term needs to be broken up.

echt Fri 19-Apr-13 22:36:22

How will more of the same improve things?

How will being in school longer benefit working-class children? Are they thicker than middle class children that they fall behind over the holidays?

How are middle-class children advantaged?

The very fact that private schools achieve so well despite the longer holidays, with no moaning about their children falling behind should tell us something. These schools select their intake, weed out the non-compliant, have smaller classes and very supportive parents.And Gove is not telling them to lengthen their school year.

If state schools had the same advantages as the private system, there'd be no problem, but that's never going to happen because it would cost money and getting all parents to support their child's education is a bugger's job.

Students who struggle need targeted help, but summer schools, while useful, stigmatise. Smaller classes really do help in improving literacy, but they cost a fortune. So much easier for Gove to say state-educated children all lag behind so they all need a longer school year. It will not improve educational outcomes if it's more of the same.

echt Fri 19-Apr-13 22:39:34

I should get back on track and say something about the length of terms and holidays. Here In Australia, we have four 9/10/11 week terms, with a two-week break three times year and five weeks in the summer.

I was aghast at first teaching for such long terms, but it works out OK.

JassyRadlett Fri 19-Apr-13 22:39:53

I run a team of 30 people with a comparatively low proportion of parents and teachers' spouses.

And STILL managing leave over the school summer holidays, and to a lesser extent other holidays, is a nightmare, and we're pretty flexible. I can't imagine how it would be if they were all competing for the same four weeks to take their summer holidays.

Inevitably, more people would have their leave denied as the same number of people would all be after a shorter period for their leave.

As a parent and as an employer, I'd much prefer longer holidays that come with the hassle of having to organise childcare, rather than run the risk of shorter or fewer family holidays, and probably still having to get lots of childcare organised because I couldn't get the leave.

There's been a lot of research recently that shows working class children do sli


Do sli

Sorry phone in bed
Wc children slip behind in summer holidays not coz they are 'thick' but because they are not taken to museums, France, etc etc. this could be seen as a way of trying to even things out so those without supportive or educated parents can keep up.

echt Fri 19-Apr-13 22:51:12

I'm not saying they don't slip, just looking at why. Museums aren't the answer; they are a symptom of the parental support I mentioned that is part and parcel of middle-class. If they were, then Gove would be putting money into enrichment programmes, but he isn't.

I find it a bit off that seemingly the answer to lack of museums is more sitting a desk. But only for thew working classes.

What is needed is smaller classes, but it won't happen.

echt Fri 19-Apr-13 22:52:02

At a desk.

I think that he had no friends and that his parents made him do extra homework in the evenings and holidays.
but definitely no friends to play with.

he was miserable as a child and doesn't want other children to be happy.
this is revenge served cold.

havingamadmoment Fri 19-Apr-13 23:15:26

I don't think he really understands the reality in a lot of schools. We live in a very poor area and I would guess that my Dcs school has many pupils of the kind this is supposed to benefit, bad behaviour, low motivation and bad results in SATS etc. from my admittedly limited experience of seeing the classes in action I don't think that extra time shorter holidays will change the outcome at all. The teacher spends most of his or her time basically containing a s group within the class while the rest of the class is sat watching and extra hours in the day will just mean more of the same. The problem is the parents, it's clear for pretty much anyone to see the parents whose children fail and misbehave don't need shorter holidays or shorter days they need parenting classes and/ or a kick up the backside.

They government should use the huge amount of money this will cost to find decent after school child care for hose who need it and leave he rest of us alone.

PenelopePitstops Sat 20-Apr-13 08:00:27

Chiamine - you are so right!

The difference between this country and Asia is the attitude to school. In Asia education is a way out, in this country it's seen as the way to university for the middle class and cheap childcare for the majority. Until societies attitude to education changes then no reforms by gove will change a thing.

indyandlara Sat 20-Apr-13 08:21:08

I'm a bit hmm about how this will help working class kids. State schools don't just contain children from WC families. Being from a WC family does not mean that a child is automatically needy (socially or academically). Work ethic and desire to do well is not solely the reserve of the middle classes. What happens in situations like ours? We are a professional, post grad educated family and our daughter will go to state school. Does that mean that as she is not 'in need of help' we can just stick to the current hours.

I do not want my child in school for 9 hours a day. At that rate she will be working more hours/ away from home for as long longer than an adult working full time. She is 4. Childhood is precious and over in the blink of an eye. Gove isn't getting his greasy mitts on my daughter's childhood.

Madmum24 Sat 20-Apr-13 08:22:27

I don't think Gove's comparison of Uk versus Far East is legible; attitudes there towards education are much different from here; yes, education is seen as the only route out of poverty (whereas we have benefits as a safety net) but also huge pressures are put onto children there to perform. "Cramming schools" from a very early age where children attend extra lessons for several hours after school, and I think (but stand corrected) that the rate of suicide amongst school age children is certainly on the increase.

I went to an international school were there was a high intake of students from HK; they would arrive with no english (sometimes as late as 16) and after a three month intensive english course they would begin A levels. The pressure on them was huge though, their parents had often had to borrow the money to send them and they knew in return that their parents would be financially dependant on them in later life.

indyandlara Sat 20-Apr-13 08:22:51

Long or longer even

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sat 20-Apr-13 09:59:17

WC children do not all 'slip behind' in the Summer Holidays. My DS1 and DS2 were a full sub level higher than in July for DS2, and THREE sub levels higher for DS1 (though that was because he was studying for his 11+ over the summer hols).

It's frustrating that despite having an IQ of 134, he missed out on a GS place by just one point, because he sat the test when he was quite ill (he had already missed the first date, his illness lasted 6 weeks, so he HAD to sit on that date).

We are hoping that he gets in from the waiting list.

If he had had two years of paid tutoring then maybe he would have been in with an equal chance like the DC's that got in ahead of him.

Unfortunately, in my situation, that was a financial impossibility.

So it's NOT a level playing field, NOT all WC children slip back over the holidays, NOT all WC DC's are less clever than MC DC's, and there ARE disadvantages to being WC.

Level the playing field by putting in place a system that allows the cleverest WC DC's to access the kind of tuition that a MC DC gets, and the results would be surprising.

You can't do that by shortening the Summer Holidays and lengthening the school day.

But that would cost money and do away with the misconception that WC parents aren't interested in their DC's education. That's RUBBISH.

Yes, there may be a minority of them that aren't interested, just as a minority of MC parents aren't interested.

WC parents, more often than not, see their DC's education as a way of ensuring that their DC's break out of the traditional NMW jobs that they have no choice but to do.

The issue is NOT that they aren't interested, but that they may not be educated enough themselves to personally help their DC's, and they can't financially stretch to tutors that could help.

THAT'S the real issue.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sat 20-Apr-13 09:59:45

And yes, smaller class sizes would go a LONG way to helping WC DC's.

niceguy2 Sat 20-Apr-13 11:07:42

@Madmum. You are right, the attitudes are way different. Education isn't just seen as a way out of poverty, it's seen as your best chance to success.

We do have a benefits safety net but that should be no excuse for not ensuring every child leaves with the best education we can as a society give them. And right now we're falling very short in the UK. A large part because as a society, there just is not the belief there that education is important.

In the UK we have the attitude of "Oh well if you do your best then that's good enough." Outside of the UK and maybe the western world, it's more "Well, why are you not doing better? What's stopping you and let's fix it."

Take my neighbour's son who is very bright. His parents have the above attitude of "Well if you try your hardest then it doesn't matter what grades you get.". He came out with very average grades, not enough to get on the courses he wanted. Go ask him now if he did his best? He will admit now that he didn't. That he could have tried harder. Lesson learned. Too late but lesson learned.

My DD has always had a more 'asian style' approach drilled into her. If she gets an A, I want to know what's stopping her from getting an A+. Did she know where she went wrong? Does she need additional help? Books? Tutor? What is it I can do to help?

It's not just about relentlessly pushing them. It's about making sure they absolutely do their best. Because they are going to not be competing with just the people around the city for jobs but she's going to be competing with graduates all over the world for jobs.

Lastly as for parents relying on their kids in later life in HK. Yes & no. There is a basic safety net for OAP's. I won't pretend that it's as comprehensive as the UK. But take the difference in culture into account. Some years ago my gran asked my uncle to sign some papers to declare that he wouldn't support my gran. That would enable her to get state support. He point blank refused. He saw it as his duty to take care of his mother in her old age.

My mother pushed me to succeed. I went to uni. I have a good job today as a direct result of my education. Each day I work with and compete with people in India, US & all over for projects. That is the reality of the world we live in.

Does our education need to improve? Yes. How do we do it? Not sure right now. Personally I believe that cutting class sizes would have a bigger effect than cutting the 6 week holidays but it's certainly a debate worth having.

I love the long school holidays (but round here we seem to end up with only 5 1/2 weeks) its a chance for dd to really be herself, enjoy her hobbies etc.

But, as often May is better weather than July, how about a 3 week holiday in May (which could be used as exam study time for gcse/a level kids) then 4 weeks in August? Easter could be a bit shorter and Christmas a bit longer.

I don't know.

I think there should be more evenly space holidays - shorter but more evenly spaced.

There definitely needs to be a bigger gap in summer, but maybe 4 weeks is enough?
and you still need to fit them around christmas and easter, whatever you do. (maybe not necessarily easter, but certainly christmas because adults tend to wind down then, because of two bank holidays a week apart, and most adults' jobs are geared towards christmas anyway - manufacture and retail and postal.)

If you were to think of the 52 weeks, and divide it into 4.
then you've got blocks of 13 weeks that need to be covered.
2 weeks at christmas.
this year, frida 20th december until monday 6th january (2 weeks)
11 weeks after that (assume that 1 week is last term and 1 week this term) is
friday 21st march
2 weeks off.
then another 11 weeks
20th june
2 weeks
then summer term would be 9 weeks allowing 4 weeks off, starting 5th september.
4 weeks takes you to 3rd october
and then 11 weeks to 20th december.

I think that works.

any bank holidays are in addition to that, so Easter weekend would be maundy thursday to easter monday, which would give 3 days off.

I'm not convinced that a longer school day is a good idea.
children need time to kick back and relax.
maybe if you had a longer lunchtime, say 2 hours instead of 1, then you could fit in all sorts of extra curricular stuff - hobbies and sports.
then school would finish at 4 instead of 3, and kids would be refreshed.

and you could still do an hour of after school stuff from 4:30 until 5:30 (after a half hour meal break), which would be best served being, again, hobbies or homework clubs, music or sports.

then most children wouldn't need care from outside the parents, if you allowed an extra 20-30minutes' packing up and messing around ready to go home time.

It still means that children have enough time in the evenings to do scouts/guides/swimming etc (but they're also probably the kind of thing that you could organize groups for instead of staying at school for after-school stuff)

Squarepebbles Sat 20-Apr-13 11:56:57

Yes but let's not forget the Asian countries aren't very good at thinking out of the box because of all this drilling.I read an interesting article not so long ago saying exactly this and it can be a problem.Our more creative system encourages innovation etc.

My dp works in IT and notices this kind of thing with outsourced workers very good at churning out code(not always great quality which companies are beginning to react to) but noticing,negotiating and correcting problems not so hot.

I'd be very wary re going down the Asian style is how we should all be route-aren't their suicide rates among young people quite high? Yes the incentive for flogging kids to death is there however is that a thing we want to emulate.Don't we want happy to raise happy,confident adults who gain enjoyment from a well rounded life?I certainly do.

Squarepebbles Sat 20-Apr-13 12:04:17

Oh and to be more creative you need time to think,ponder and create.

Hulababy Sat 20-Apr-13 12:07:39

An 11 week term with no break is a very long time for some children, for many little children especially.
You can see children flagging during 7 and 8 week terms already.

sarahtigh Sat 20-Apr-13 12:25:53

I think comparisons to germany and scandanavia would be better

11 weeks is far too long for a term, isn't it?


6 or 7 weeks, i think, with 1 and 2 week holidays alternating, or however many fit in.

I just worked it out and it ends up the same as we've got now.
(sort of - the 6 week holiday ends up starting in the middle august and finishing at the end of september)

Eebahgum Sat 20-Apr-13 14:36:25

Michael Gove is a Dick. He's on a one man mission to ruin our eduction system. Every single one of his ideas is bloody ridiculous.

dayshiftdoris Sat 20-Apr-13 17:45:45

There are a lot of children already doing a 10hour day for some, if not all of the week-days... children in 'wrap-around care' who start in childcare at 8am and finish at 6pm would not notice any change...

Except perhaps that the time could be utilised for better things... more extra-curricular activity / sport or catching up with areas they need support with - there is a great deal of scope.

It would also end childcare trap for a lot of parents who ending up paying thousands for what is sometimes completely unsuitable childcare and either do not see financial benefit to working or in some cases are worse off so stop.

As long as there were regular breaks then I can't see the issue.

And the longer holidays need to go - they need shorter breaks more often for them to be really effective as 'downtime'.

The only thing that grates is Michael Gove... I cant believe I am agreeing with him!

Bonsoir Sat 20-Apr-13 18:51:01

The more I think about this, the more I think it is about the creation of a powerless slave class where DC are forceably removed from parents and minded in school so that the parents work. MC parents won't be concerned because they have access to alternatives (academies, HE, private schools).

Squarepebbles Sat 20-Apr-13 19:14:39

Sorry Doris many parents(the majority as only a third I read on another thread both work full time) choose not to give their dc that type of treadmill.Many have 1 parent part time,have shifts,use flexi time,use grandparents,work from home,use friends,childminders etc,etc.

Many of us go without,live in smaller houses,never go on holidays,don't run up debt,don't buy gadgets,don't send or dc to private schools,never eat out,never buy clothes,never have coffee out,only ave 1 crap old car etc in order not to have 2 x working parents.

Don't see why my children should put up with treadmill of loooong hours in a concrete jungle and very little time to play,create and just be all because a few choose to maintain bigger houses,go private,want holidays and expensive lifestyles.Not all 2 x full time working parents do it because they have to.

kim147 Sat 20-Apr-13 19:36:08

My theory is that Gove had a bad experience with teachers at school and this is his revenge.

As a teacher - well it would be great to have the same amount of contact time we have at the moment - then it's possible to do the work in the extra non - contact time with all these extra weeks of school.

But if it involves more contact time, then I think he's gone too far. It's also the effect on children who need downtime. Just "me" time without being directed what to do all the time.

BogeyNights Sat 20-Apr-13 20:26:31

I worry about the social side of things, extending the day at school and reducing the time spent away from school. Instituionalised is a word that comes to my mind.

I've just seen my two sons outside playing with the neighbours' kids (2 boys from one family, 2 girls from another, mixed ages) and each families' kids go to a different school. My boys are so relaxed in their company, and enjoys the weekends just so that he can hang out with kids other than their class mates.

When we embark on adult life, we are forced to spend a lot of our time with people we wouldn't necessarily choose to hang out with, due to work commitments etc. But that's part of being an adult. Kids need a variety of friends and environments in order to develop different sides to their personalities and help them learn to deal with different people: people they can get on with and people they can't.

School is about learning and educating children, yes. But the social side of life and relationships and how to develop and manage them is equally important. With staff, teachers, adults, other children both older and younger. But it's a very closed experience if they are the only people they are exposed to.

If all life revolves around school, then how can children explore what else is out there?

The holidays are good for all manner of things, recharging, enjoying new hobbies, travelling and visiting new places, hanging out with friends and family in an environment other than school.

I accept that there are some kids that won't experience all of that in their holidays. But why take the onus away from parents and give it to teachers to ensure that a child's life is fulfilled. Parents will soon be complaining that teachers are not providing enough experiences for their children.

I work in a school and I know that KS1 kids are shattered by the end of a half term and really do need a rest from school. It's noisy and busy in a classroom and quite exhausting for all concerned. I for one would find it difficult to find the energy to work an additional two hours in that environment every day. I know my teachers would feel the same, and they would still have planning and prep to do for the next day and what's more that planning and prep would have to accommodate a longer day too!

chandellina Sat 20-Apr-13 20:35:10

I think it's quite a feminist idea. It's virtually always the woman who stays at home or goes to part time hours. This would massively relieve that situation.

howshouldibehave Sat 20-Apr-13 20:51:18

Many jobs are 9-5/6 though anyway and then would have to travel to collect their child. Making school end at 4.30 wouldn't help that?

MiniTheMinx Sat 20-Apr-13 21:48:35

Many of us go without,live in smaller houses,never go on holidays,don't run up debt,don't buy gadgets,don't send or dc to private schools,never eat out,never buy clothes,never have coffee out,only ave 1 crap old car etc in order not to have 2 x working parents

I agree, whilst many families need two incomes to cover the basics, there are some that choose to work to pay for extras. Also many women and probably some men work part time &/or shifts.

However, I personally think that the child who seldom has day trips and holidays might benefit from being offered extra curricular activities and opportunities even if that is at school.

Choosing actively not to work and to go without clothes, gadgets (toys!) never eating out and not having a holiday doesn't sound like a terribly broad child hood experience, not one I would want to subject my children to through choice.

echt Sat 20-Apr-13 21:50:53

Has Gove said the extra time would be devoted to enrichment activities?

kim147 Sat 20-Apr-13 21:56:33

You don't expect Gove to actually give details, echt grin

MiniTheMinx Sat 20-Apr-13 21:57:47

It would be great if teachers and parents were actually consulted

echt Sat 20-Apr-13 22:02:44

I know, silly me. grin I think he's doing it to make the teachers' reaction look like pure self-interest. So glad to see he's getting a near universal caning from parents.

Squarepebbles Sat 20-Apr-13 22:59:31

Mini it is as broad as you want to make it and you can be creative to gain experiences. Children don't need a lot of the stuff many parents spend shed loads on or a lot of money spent to get a broad experience.

Ok my dc haven't been on many exotic holidays however they know London very well,it's history,it's free museums and art galleries when they stay with grandparents.They've been to France courtesy of grandparents and Sun vouchers.They have had many experiences of camping in Cornwall,woods,wild camping on the moors,crabbing,cycling,hiking,local free museums,libraries. Tesco vouchers,Vue am help with eating out occasionally(not a necessary in life),cinema trips etc.We have NT membership for birthdays. Relations and friends will live in all sorts of different places you can always find history and interest in.

I'll go back to work part time eventually(at some point they'll be able to fend for themselves after school) and we'll do some long haul travel then.

I grew up with parents not having the cash to do all sorts of expensive activities and did just fine getting a degree and a well rounded view of life.In the 70s nobody ate out a lot or had money for theme parks,exotic holidays,riding lessons etc.

Some of society has a very screwed picture of what kids need these days.You don't need pots of money and a huge house to raise a child or to give them a rich and full life.

Squarepebbles Sat 20-Apr-13 23:23:50

Oh and today after reading for ages they played outside for most of the day with all the neighbourhood kids(camping in an old pop up tent,Hogwarts Express on bikes,making fires with a magnifying glass,water fights etc) and examined a chrysalis from a caterpillar my daughter made a home for in a jam jar- zero cost to me and pretty broad imvho.

maddening Sun 21-Apr-13 00:01:49

Gove still has his 13 weeks holiday - I wonder if the mp's holidays should be cutby the same amount

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 21-Apr-13 00:05:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Cathycat Sun 21-Apr-13 00:13:40

I cant understand where the money is going to come from for all of this? It hasn't been said that the teachers will teach during these extra hours and extra weeks, but if so, it would cost the country a fortune. Full time teachers only get paid for 32 and a half hours a week ... obviously they do far more than this voluntarily. If Gove is intending people who have NVQs to lead before and after school clubs, who is going to pay for this? The government? This option would still cost the government a lot of money. Perhaps then is Gove expecting teachers to increase their contact time to 45 hours a week for extra weeks a year without extra pay? So then it would be free childcare provided by teachers?

VenusRising Sun 21-Apr-13 00:38:14

In my experience of schooling, it doesn't matter if the holidays are long or short, you still need to have a good solid curriculum, and reinforced and supported learning at home.

Parents are the real heroes if there is any advance in literacy or numeracy.

Fwiw my dd gets three months holidays in the summer (yes, 12 weeks) two weeks at Xmas, two weeks at Easter, and one full week for each mid term. Also plenty of half days for teacher training.

That means she's only in school for seven months of the year, and literacy rates and numeracy rates are very high where we are (republic of Ireland).
I suppose the long holidays are a relict system when we were more agricultural, and everyone helped with the harvest, or some such. Not very necessary now we are all becoming more urbanised and 24/7.

I think the only benefit of such long holidays is that we are very imaginative and entrepreneurial, unlike the Asian countries.

I still would love free clubs in the summer and for the other holidays, as these cost us a fortune, otherwise we have to take shorter hours at work, but on the whole, I enjoy my kids company, and I feel the lazy, unscheduled days are precious!

Sunnysummer Sun 21-Apr-13 00:56:57

AIBU to think that lots of the responses on this thread have forgotten about the reality of single parenthood and families disadvantaged enough that 'not buying coffees' is not going to allow for a decent lifestyle and enough support for kids over long breaks, whether financially or through other types of enrichment?

I am still not fully sold on the proposals, and would need to see a lot more evidence before I'd be thrilled to put DCs in for longer days... but some of the 'my kids have amazing holidays thanks to me and my great parenting' responses on here feel smug and not hugely helpful to the debate.

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 07:36:44

You can't have free clubs in the holidays- childcare is expensive, staff need to be paid. It doesn't matter if you go down the road of teachers working extra hours/weeks or keeping the holidays and having different staff run clubs/activities- the country can't afford it.

Squarepebbles Sun 21-Apr-13 07:50:58

Sunny but to take a positive thing away because a few want free childcare is wrong.Many,many kids need and thrive under the current system and many families work hard to enable their children to have down time.

Sorry but posts like yours smack of sour grapes.

I don't want the nation's entire collective of teachers and children to be knackered and living a treadmill life because some children are in full time childcare over the holidays.confused

It's like saying all music lessons or private schools should be banned because some families can't afford it.

Shouldn't we be working towards providing quality school holidays where all children get down time,freedom to create and just be?

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 07:59:42

Some children have chaotic home lives and would benefit from longer time at school- however there is no need to have a 'blanket' - longer for all when the majority are better served by the shorter school day.
Children who need intervention can be spotted by 3yrs and that is where the money needs to be spent. Provision could be made for those who need it.

norfolknic Sun 21-Apr-13 08:01:48

I think it's a fantastic idea. It would improve children's education and bring us I'm line with better performing countries. What's not to like? Seems like some people just hate Gove regardless of what he says and does.

Squarepebbles Sun 21-Apr-13 08:07:03

Have you read the thread Norfolk?confused

SuffolkNWhat Sun 21-Apr-13 08:08:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

yup i pull my child from education if happens

Many dc with sn leave already very early for schools and have travelling so there days already way to long

already he leaves house at 7.20 home 4.30 that is up by 6am and often in dinner and ready for bed weekends he is tired out and then start again Mon .summer holidays gives us chance to do things

.He is 7[sad[

oh and somehow were mant to fit homework and physio etc into a day.his school already hate fact i refuse to do homework with him .Childhood is to short as it is and then they complain when children seem grow up to fast hmm

howshouldibehave Sun 21-Apr-13 08:57:20

Norfolk, have you read any of the thread?

If you work 37 hours a week, does it go without saying that you'd be as productive at your job if you were to suddenly work an extra hour each day? Two hours? Now start reducing your holidays, will you still be working hard? Not tired at all?

You can't just do more of the same and expect better results. Children are not robots.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 08:57:57

Norfolk - did you see the link? English school children already do longer hours than other children in developed countries. Longer hours is simply not the answer.

dayshiftdoris Sun 21-Apr-13 18:55:04


As single parent I dont have the benefit of another parent working part time and as a midwife I couldn't work school hours though I was allowed to work 9-5...

Never had an exotic holiday, large house or brand new car, infact I've earnt that much that there has barely been money to put food on the table at times.

And during all that time I was putting my son 'on the treadmill' (by choice of course) I was paying more than a third of my wage for childcare. I couldn't leave work and claim benefits because I had a mortgage before I had my son and I knew I would end up losing our home.

But thanks for your completely in accurate take on my world... I guarentee you that I am not alone with this one... there is a number of single parents doing what I did for the reasons I did it.

As for downtime - I have been lucky enough to not work the last 10months and my son is no better off because the holidays are so stupidity spaced out... some holidays are too long and the terms too long.
They cram so much in to the day so it's all rushed. The irony of your 'downtime' comment when my son with ASD often misses his downtime at school because they are cramming teaching in right up to 3.15pm...

A longer day with more breaks that give real downtime coupled with shorter, more regular holidays would be better in the long run.

Squarepebbles Sun 21-Apr-13 19:22:19

For you not for my children, the majority of children or teachers.

Doubtitsomehow Sun 21-Apr-13 19:38:19

My kids love the summer hols. And we just about manage to balance it with work.

But. I see all the arguments about global competition. And it's our kids that are going to be facing that - not us parents.

I also really feel for those kids whose parents struggle to put food on the table, and to parent, over the long hols. For them, the six or seven weeks must stretch out like a nightmare.

So. It's debate worth having. How can it not be?

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 19:39:12

What's not to like?

Over 200 posts detailing it!

nappyaddict Wed 24-Apr-13 09:39:17

I think the October, February and May half terms should be 2 weeks. Easter and Christmas should be 3 weeks and 4 weeks in Summer.

sarahtigh Wed 24-Apr-13 16:00:15

why would you want all those holidays when weather bad that would be more weeks in october to march than in april - september

maybe split summer holidays so finish after major exams last 3 weeks of june then 6 weeks in school

( for primary school children all afternoon activites outside more sport/ nature based science etc)

for secondary children could include at least 2 weeks of work experience things like duke of edinburgh awards , outward bound stuff, more music /art/ theatre etc taster courses in other languages/ philosphy/ cookery/ mechanics etc

then off last 2 weeks august and 1st week september then last week october half term, 2 weeks at christmas 3rd week of february and then first 2 weeks in april for easter with just long weekend in may as break up in june, also means no going back for 3 weeks after GCSE's

howshouldibehave Wed 24-Apr-13 16:50:06

To people who suggest all primary school afternoon activities be outside, can I just make the point that whilst it's a lovely idea, it's not always practical. My primary has 20 classes of 30 with one playground and one small field and I'm sure we aren't alone in this-there is just no space.

nappyaddict Thu 25-Apr-13 17:07:58

sarahtigh Because for me the purpose of school holidays is to recharge batteries so shorter, more frequently spaced out holidays are better than having 12 weeks in the summer but just 2 weeks at christmas and 2 weeks at Easter like other countries have.

BeQuicksieorBeDead Sun 28-Apr-13 10:34:44

Gove is going to fund this idea for free, with the backing of most voters, after he has baited the unions in to a strike. Selfish teachers need sorting out - giving him licence to rip up teachers pay and conditions and set working hours to suit his plan.

What kind of teachers will stick with it? Ones that have no option, no confidence left, no self worth to leave. The profession will suffer as it is downgraded even more and unqualified teachers do more and more of the work. We will end up like Portugal where primary teachers are seen as the dregs.

If we want shorter holidays, fine, good luck booking time off when everyone requests the same fortnight, but lets throw some money at it and do it properly. Extended hours need to be paid for, be optional and be.good quality. Not be tacked on to an already exhausting day.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now