School looking to change start times...

(38 Posts)
CouthyMow Sun 12-May-13 03:17:15

My DS's primary has just converted to an Academy. (Chosen, not forced, our LA intends all schools to be Academies by September 2015)

They have had one unusually small intake (current Y6), and one unusually large intake (current Y4). In September, we will have an extra class, due to the Y6 1FE leaving, and a YR 2FE starting.

The school wish to change the start times from 9am infants, 8.55am juniors to 8.45am infants, 8.40 juniors.

They are saying that it is to do with the fact that they will be the largest school in our town (with a 2FE+bulge class in what will be Y5), and that it is causing issues with lunchtimes.

While I can see the logistics of lunchtimes being a headache, as the school doesn't have one large hall, but two small halls, at opposite ends of the school (was 1.5FE just 8 years ago, 1FE 9 years ago, has grown very quickly), the fact that many people have to travel to the school by bus, on a very busy, multiple bottle-necked route seems to be overlooked.

The school know that quite a lot of their pupils have to travel there, and that getting there just 15 minutes earlier might mean leaving the house 45 minutes or more earlier, due to traffic jams.

They have asked any objections to be put in writing. How best to go about this?

(As actually, I STRONGLY object. To the point of steam coming out of my ears. Most people I know that catch the bus just can't manage that, for various reasons. Mine would be getting my 15yo DD with LD's out if the door at 8.05am, but others have their reasons too.)

I can't see why they can't FINISH 15 minutes later - as 3.15 would not be as much of a problem to travel home by bus as travelling TO school in rush hour on unreliable buses is.

So, they can choose to make life harder for the parents that travel by bus by starting 15 minutes earlier OR they can have the extra 15 minutes without making life harder for the parents that travel by bus.

Maybe I will suggest that, due to congestion in rush hour here?

MrRected Sun 12-May-13 03:25:03

My DS has to be out the door by 7.10am to catch the bus. It is what it is.

What is your objection to 8.05? Why can't you manage this? Surely it's just a matter of getting up a bit earlier?

Timetoask Sun 12-May-13 04:16:47

Frankly, I don't see what the big problem is. Those start times seems reasonable and if it helps sort out the lunchtime issue, then you need to try and help the school.

If other people are concerned about their travel times, then surely it's up to then to put the complaint in writing?

My son with learning difficulties is out of the door by 7:40. I think you could adjust your routine accordingly.

8:05 is do-able surely? We all leave at 7:20 here and it's fine.

CalicoRose Sun 12-May-13 05:32:43

Put your objection in. My old school wanted - really wanted - to change the school end time. But the parents objected and so the governers voted against it. Even though the HT was absurdly furious.

So, as long as govs are voting on this (which I'd expect them to) I wouldn't view this as a done deal.

Just state that due to rush hour traffic bringing the start time forward would really inconvenience you and all others who drive or take busses to school, but you'd be happy for them to change the end time.

Mominatrix Sun 12-May-13 07:32:12

I really don't see what the problem is. DS1's school start time is 8:15 and children travel from all over London to attend. There are clubs which occur prior to school starting, and meet at 7:30-7:45. Actually, traffic is much less at that early time.

A bit minor to get het up over.

insanityscratching Sun 12-May-13 08:30:59

Dd's primary has a staggered lunchtime. I think reception go in at 11.30 and years five and six go in at 1pm and the other years fit in between. It also means there is more room on the playground as the whole school is never out there all at once as they get an hour's lunch break regardless of the time they eat.I suppose it costs more for playground supervisors and kitchen staff though. Could the school do something similar?

meditrina Sun 12-May-13 08:38:42

To be effective, you need to have quite a lot of parents together saying the same thing.

And you need to have evidence of the bus route issue - for our school run, leaving to get to school early (for when playground gates open for early arrivals, well before start time) means we get through the traffic far better. I should imagine that staff know the traffic patterns round the school though, but may not know if there is one route particularly badly hit.

noramum Sun 12-May-13 09:58:41

Every now and then I drive to a large supermarket straight from dropping DD off at 8.55am. Traffic was a nightmare as all the school mums drove back home.

Now DD is allowed into the class at 8.45am and I cut down on traffic a lot as we are on the road before all the other mums are.

I could imagine you are actually saving time by being ahead of all the other school run traffic.

Whilst I can see your concerns regarding rush hour traffic, I feel your current start times are quite late and the proposed ones quite reasonable.
Our infants start at 8.50 and our juniors at 8.40 with gates opening at 8.30.
It means we leave the house in good time (we have to drive, not within walking distance) to allow for us to get there.

If you want the school to take your concerns seriously, you need a very very large number of parents all saying the same thing, together. Do you have time to put some sort of petition / group together?

CouthyMow Sun 12-May-13 10:07:07

Not ahead of the traffic leaving earlier - It's actually worse because of people heading to the station to commute to London.

DD is VERY routine based, she has Autism as well as her LD's, and a change in her routine would send her into meltdown. She starts Y11 in September. And I also have a toddler with Autism and hyperactivity to get ready too. Plus DS2 has mobility issues and needs far more help than your average 9yo.

The other local schools finish at 3.15, rather than starting at 8.40, precisely because of the traffic.

I can totally understand why the school needs that extra 15 minutes, but to tack it onto the start of the day in rush hour seems daft when to finish at 3.15 would be outside rush hour...

CouthyMow Sun 12-May-13 10:09:11

Petition should be easy enough - just walk up and down the buses for a week and I'll catch everyone!

TSSDNCOP Sun 12-May-13 10:20:23

You might be surprised about traffic. We start at 8.30. That actually enables us to beat the traffic as the commuters are gone (surely all alondon bound commuters are well on their way before 8am, and local traffic gets really snarled as workers belt in for 9 am.

DowntonTrout Sun 12-May-13 10:27:18

We always had to be out of the house at 8.10 latest at DDs previous school, for an 8.40 start. The traffic queues were always worse when I was coming back in the opposite direction. If they had moved the start to 9am I would probably have had to leave at the same time.

At her new school, she is always in for 8.30. This is even better IMo. Can I ask, is the current length of day the norm? Although both of DDs schools started earlier than yours, both finish later. Our days have always been 1hr longer than that, finishing at 3.40 and 4pm respectively.(current Y6.)

I understand your reasoning about the issues you face because of your other DCs and how it will affect you. But 9am seems quite a late start- that is only my experience.

Startail Sun 12-May-13 10:28:42

Yes, I used work on the edge of Birmingham and, although there was a lot of traffic for the schools getting in for 9 was still way better than 8.30 because traffic for the town centre offices had cleared.

bubblesinthesky Sun 12-May-13 10:34:50

Can you try as an experiement getting to school for the new time a couple of times before responding?

You may well find the traffic is better than you think. DD has to be in school for 8.40 but we leave at 7.50 to arrive at 8.10am which is when supervision starts in the playground. This way we arrive with almost no congestion. For every five minutes later we leave we arrive about 10 minutes later at school because of the traffic. It really may not be as bad as you think

admission Sun 12-May-13 11:38:49

The rules around any change of school day is that there must be a consultation and then the governing body have to agree to a change which can only happen at the start of the school year in September. The school would appear to be doing it correctly, though I do think that a longer day tacked onto the end of the school day is preferable. Could it be that the bus situation is influencing the thinking here?

louisea Sun 12-May-13 11:41:53

Our school changed the start time a few years ago for different reasons. No place to tag on the end of the day as the juniors already finished at 3.40. At the time I thought that it would make for too long a day but it has worked well. Start time is 8.40 and actually works better than before as there seems to be a little less traffic than 10 minutes later.

3MonthMaid Sun 12-May-13 12:03:38

Our infants start at 8.50. It's ideal as I can still get to work for 9!

Do all your parents actually make it for 9.00? Our school essentially starts at 8.50 so that all the children are in and sitting ready for lessons at 9.

MrRected Mon 13-May-13 01:11:31

Appreciate you have specific issues Couthy, but to be fair, the majority won't have.

Of course, a change to the routine could be a little stressful in the short term but it's not really that much of a change. If you needed to be leaving by 6.30am, well that would be a huge problem.

I am not sure, given everything else you've got to deal with, that this is a battle worth fighting. I would imagine if you start with an earlier getting up time on a Sunday, then introduce a few minutes earlier each day, after a week or so the new routine would be in place. You'll have to get up 30 minutes earlier - it's not really the end of the world is it?

CouthyMow Mon 13-May-13 01:56:47

Nope, as Startail explains, where I am (though a different area to Star), the journey is far quicker once the traffic has cleared - which doesn't happen till after 8.35. Which wouldn't leave me enough journey time to get there if they change the start times.

Someone else said that for every 5 minutes later they leave, their journey takes 10 minutes longer. Well, here, it is completely the opposite - for every 5 minutes earlier I leave, my journey takes 10 minutes longer.

So it would necessitate me leaving 30 minutes earlier than I do now to get there for a start time just 15 minutes earlier...

And no, my DD will NOT 'be used to a change in routine after a few days'.

She has Autism and LD's. She doesn't do changes in routine.

We had a two hour meltdown because the CD cabinet is no longer in the front room today. Because it fell to pieces.

If you think that it is as easy to change my DD's routine as getting up a few minutes earlier each day, then you obviously haven't had much dealings with DC's on the Autistic spectrum.

And if you think she can get herself out of the house on time without an adult there to help her, then you obviously haven't had much dealings with DC's with LD's that will prevent them from living independently at a 'standard' age.

My DD still can't manage to pack her own school bag without help. And even if she does, if I'm not there to make sure she's picked up everything, she doesn't.

Yes, to the poster who asked, it has been standard for the school times to be 9am-3pm for infants and 8.55am-3pm for juniors in this school for at least the last 9 years. The other schools locally are all either 8.55-3pm or 9am-3.15pm.

DD's Secondary is 8.45am-3.15pm.

CouthyMow Mon 13-May-13 01:58:59

Nope, as Startail explains, where I am (though a different area to Star), the journey is far quicker once the traffic has cleared - which doesn't happen till after 8.35. Which wouldn't leave me enough journey time to get there if they change the start times.

Someone else said that for every 5 minutes later they leave, their journey takes 10 minutes longer. Well, here, it is completely the opposite - for every 5 minutes earlier I leave, my journey takes 10 minutes longer.

So it would necessitate me leaving 30 minutes earlier than I do now to get there for a start time just 15 minutes earlier...

And no, my DD will NOT 'be used to a change in routine after a few days'.

She has Autism and LD's. She doesn't do changes in routine.

We had a two hour meltdown because the CD cabinet is no longer in the front room today. Because it fell to pieces.

If you think that it is as easy to change my DD's routine as getting up a few minutes earlier each day, then you obviously haven't had much dealings with DC's on the Autistic spectrum.

And if you think she can get herself out of the house on time without an adult there to help her, then you obviously haven't had much dealings with DC's with LD's that will prevent them from living independently at a 'standard' age.

My DD still can't manage to pack her own school bag without help. And even if she does, if I'm not there to make sure she's picked up everything, she doesn't.

Yes, to the poster who asked, it has been standard for the school times to be 9am-3pm for infants and 8.55am-3pm for juniors in this school for at least the last 9 years. The other schools locally are all either 8.55-3pm or 9am-3.15pm.

DD's Secondary is 8.45am-3.15pm.

Just realised why some schools have a longer day - do they have SN afternoon break like one of my old Primaries did? None of the schools round here have afternoon break, not even in the infants.

MrRected Mon 13-May-13 04:54:32

No, I do not have an autistic child, so my comments are made from the perspective of a parent of neurologically typical children.

Why would the change of routine at the beginning of the day be any more difficult to get used to one at the end of the day?

Your post is, understandably, very defensive. I can't imagine having to deal with the difficulties you encounter each day. I don't feel sorry for you, as I get the impression that you aren't after sympathy. I can empathise though.

I still think that if this is a decision being made for a mainstream school you might be swimming upstream asking them to reverse their school hours just for your family.

BooksandaCuppa Mon 13-May-13 06:56:20

Could you suggest they take use fifteen minutes from here, there and everywhere? Ie 5 mins earlier start, 5 mins later finish and 5 mins off either break or the 'new' lunch.

I don't think you'll have much luck focussing on your specific issues with getting out of the house
(especially as they are mainly around your dd not at the school) but focus on the traffic being much worse for everyone.

Your school days are quite short though - round here usually 8.50 start with 3.15 to3.30 finish at primary with 8.40 to 3.45 for secondary.

DeWe Mon 13-May-13 09:44:11

I think the problem is whatever time you change to you'll get complaints.

And I suspect you would get more complaints changing after school times, because more people will have activities or other things to fit in.
You may even find there's a vocal support of the earlier start time, particularly from working parents.

People will have arranged things round the timings they're used to, and finding it's different will cause some people problems however they change it.

There's a vast arrangement of different timings round here (start times from 8:15 to 9:15; finish times from 2:45 to 4:30) and the number of times I've heard discussions saying "oh I couldn't cope with your times, it would eat into the evenings/we'd always be late/couldn't get to XYZ on time/wouldn't fit in with work etc."

By the sound of it, your problem is more that they are making a change, rather than the actual change itself. I suggest you go and discuss it with the school in a "how can I be helped sort this" way rather than I "I'm going to fight it" and you will probably find they are prepared to discuss and help you.

Certainly on the bus thing, I would expect them to be liasing with the bus company to make sure the time of the buses suited the people catching them for school, I know that happened when I was a pupil and one of the local schools altered the time, the (public) bus service altered their time (at beginning and end of day) to fit in with the school.

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