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?

CouthyMow Tue 14-May-13 10:53:11

They won't provide transport as we are only 2 miles away - it's 3 for juniors here.

When DS3 starts Nursery 7 miles away, they have given me the option of a bus pass (meaning I can drop him off), or a taxi (meaning I'd have to send him on his own at just turned 3yo. Not happening!).

But for DS2, I have to catch the bus and pay, simply because we are not over 3 mikes away. Mobility issues aren't taken into account!

unebagpipe Tue 14-May-13 07:37:36

I don't know a huge amount about schools as my ds is still too little... But could the local authority help you out. I think you should go to the school and see if they can help you out with suggestions. As you dc have SN they may be able to provide/subsidise transport?

CouthyMow Tue 14-May-13 07:31:06

But the point is, part of the reason for choosing this school was finding a school that I could manage to get to, ON TIME, by public transport.

To change the times to make that impossible after 9 years there, when my third DC will be going into Y5, is not on.

I could 'suck up' the extra 15 minutes at the end of the day - that only inconveniences ME, not my DS2. He's not going to get a late mark because of it.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the school's reasons for needing to add an extra 15 minutes to the school day, the logistics of lunchtimes will be impossible otherwise - feeding 450 pupils in a hall built for just 105 pupils just isn't going to work otherwise.

But I find it confusing that they have chosen to add the extra time to the start of the day, when they know how abysmal the bus service is in rush hour, when they know that the bus route is actually longer in rush hour than it is in the afternoon, when they know how bad the traffic is at that time locally, when they know that this will mean that DC's from certain families will be continually late with no choice in the matter.

Adding the time to the afternoon, like a couple of other local schools, will have none of these issues.

So it seems like it is being done to make problems for these families. Who, after all, are going to he the ones bearing the brunt of any issues that arise from persistent lateness.

They can leave earlier, but when a 2 mile journey already takes 40-50 minutes at the tail end of rush hour when the traffic is starting to clear, it is likely to take 60+ minutes earlier in rush hour, and they still won't get there any earlier, because they can't get on buses that aren't THERE!!

CouthyMow Tue 14-May-13 07:20:40

A 7.30 start?! gringrin My buses don't start early enough for me to catch one to get there at that time - the first bus is 7.20.

So that would work sooooo well without the infrastructure around it being sorted. grin

I can see that while I can write my objections, this is likely to he a done deal. It just makes me irritated that my DS2 will go from having a reasonably good record for having minimal late marks, to probably being late the majority of the time, through factors outside both his and my control.

It's not fair on him to be constantly late, and it's not fair on his class or teacher either.

I can't make the buses run on time, and I can't leave before DD does. So this will be a PITA for me and anyone else who has to use the buses. It's not our fault the service is unreliable.

Anthracite Tue 14-May-13 07:11:22

I don't see why the OP should get a voice in this.

The school just has to set the session times and everyone else needs to suck it up.

BranchingOut Tue 14-May-13 06:48:04

I used to teach at a school with an 8.45 start and there were lots of issues with lateness.

It also meant that any pre-school meeting or activity had to start 8.15 ish, or there wasn't much time to get anything done. If it is any consolation, I suspect that the HT might regret the change after a while.

It felt positively leisurely when I moved to a school with a 9.00 start.

boxershorts Mon 13-May-13 12:59:13

Some like the boss of OFSTED (Sir Wiltshire ) might really like a 7.30
start. How about that?

CouthyMow Mon 13-May-13 11:21:10

If I didn't have DD to deal with, an earlier start time would actually suit me better, as it would give me time to drop off DS2 with my friend who will be taking him 3 days a week from January so that I can cross town with DS3 to get him to the SN Nursery on time, an hour's bus ride away in rush hour.

BUT, I DO have DD to worry about, and while in most quarters it is being welcomed at the school, the ones of us that have to rely on the bus service are never going to he able to manage to get there on time.

Afternoon school run times are much quieter by bus - in the mornings, we have traffic destined for the mainline train station to London, plus I live very near a business park, which the morning rush hour buses serve, but the school pick up buses don't - thus making the journey time shorter in the afternoon due to bus routes differences, AND the lack of traffic attempting to get to work.

The school don't liaise with the bus company as the buses are meant to be every 12 minutes. Unfortunately, between 8.00am and 8.35am, there isn't usually a single bus that can get through the station roundabout bottleneck, and 3 turn up at once every day, at some point between 8.35 and 8.45.

(No, I can't walk, despite it bring a relatively 'short' journey of 2 miles, I'm disabled with Arthritis and my 9yo DS2 is also disabled and has limited mobility)

I leave the house between 8.10-8.15am, am lucky to get a bus between 8.35 and 8.45, and either just make it to school on time, or am late, more often than I would like to be, despite leaving the house 40-50 minutes before I have to be there for a 2 mile bloody journey.

Does that tell you how bad the traffic is?!

Leaving earlier won't make a jot of difference, because I can't get on a bus that hasn't turned up because it's still stuck in traffic.

That's why the earlier start times will be impossible.

DS1 has a breakfast club this week, because it's SATS week for him.

We left at 7.45 to be there for 8.30. We got there at 8.45. hmm

Leaving earlier didn't make any difference, because I can't get on a bus that isn't there!

I can't see why putting the extra 15 minutes on the morning rush rather than the afternoon rush seems more sensible to the school, when they know the traffic issues, and they even have teachers late and caught up in it all quite often.

Seems aimed at making things easier for parents that work or aren't on a very low income, and can afford to run a car, at the expense if those who, for whatever reason (epilepsy and arthritis in my case) can't run a car and are reliant on an abysmal bus service.

Why is an extra 15 minutes, which I have no dispute that they ARE needed, so important to be at the start of the day rather than the end.

I doubt an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day would be terribly detrimental to outside school activities, whereas it will be very detrimental to my DS2's educational record if, due to the morning buses, he is repeatedly late.

Hulababy Mon 13-May-13 10:46:15

Earlier start is better for working parents.

Hulababy Mon 13-May-13 10:45:48

Tbh we have earlier start times anyway, and a later finish.

Dd's school starts at 8:30am for everyone. Infants finish at 3:30 ad juniors at 3:45.

I work in an infant school. Doors open at 8:40 and close at 8:50. We finish at 3:20

dixiechick1975 Mon 13-May-13 10:34:12

Just read other comments yes I find journey quicker going earlier - amazing how 10 mins makes a difference but it does. Other local schools start later so I'm out of the area before the usual school run traffic.

dixiechick1975 Mon 13-May-13 10:29:09

A lot of parents will be thinking great though.

Dd's school changed to an 8.40 start last year and it was welcomed - not heard any complaints. Means parents can get to work earlier.

If you have specific concerns to you I'd put them in writing to the school.

crazymum53 Mon 13-May-13 10:25:11

Yes they do need to consult parents in order to change the start and end tome of the school day. For community schools it had to be approved by the LEA as well, but this won't apply to an academy.
As well as bus travel, I would also suggest that you check what difficulties this would cause to parents with younger children who have to take them to local pre-schools and nurseries. You may have a better case if you try this as parents cannot be in 2 places at once!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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