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Gove says lengthen school days and shorten long summer holiday

(721 Posts)
juneau Thu 18-Apr-13 17:42:23


I think it's a great idea and I'm sure working parents will welcome it. I also think it's bollocks that teachers need the six week summer break to recharge their batteries. Do they work harder or longer hours than other workers who only get four or five weeks a year then?

Having just endured a bored DS1 over the Easter holidays I think any break of more than two weeks is actually pretty dull for kids and I'm sure poorer kids really suffer from lack of stimulation and/or money to do stuff.

fiftyval Tue 23-Apr-13 20:42:41

In the Education section of today's Guardian they report that Gove's claims as to how things are run in the Far East are not strictly true. In Singapore, there is long school break this year from 16Nov to 31 Dec; in Hong Kong, the govt specifies an annual minimum of 190 teaching days and in China, the holidays seem to start in early July and end late August.

edam Tue 23-Apr-13 23:16:28

Interesting, fiftyval.

I think we have to take Gove's plan to chain schoolchildren to their desks together with his junior's plan to chain toddlers and nursery age children to their desks as well - don't forget Liz Truss objects to nurseries where 'children just run about with no sense of purpose'.

BoffinMum Wed 24-Apr-13 15:08:13

Question - if they get re-elected, and if he ends up as PM, what impact do you think he will have on foreign policy? confused

nannyof3 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:10:39

Don't agree at all

ravenAK Wed 24-Apr-13 20:31:50

Even the Telegraph know he's dodgy, ffs...

Torygraph link

BoffinMum Wed 24-Apr-13 20:50:32

He really is sailing a bit close to the wind there ...

TwllBach Wed 24-Apr-13 22:35:14

I can't help but feel as if te whole thing had nothing actually to do with benefitting the children, and all to do with penalising public sector workers, in this case teachers, in the same way that the government are attacking other workers in the public sector.

It's too late for me to articulate why, but that is my stance...

<wanders off in a tired haze>

BoffinMum Wed 24-Apr-13 22:38:03

My theory is he is pretending to be a conviction politician because he worked out at 11 that had worked for Maggie in terms of getting the top job. <miaou>

edam Wed 24-Apr-13 23:23:55

oh quel surprise, Gove's bully boys are paid off the books as a tax dodge. Nice. So not only are public assets, paid for by the taxpayer, being chucked into academies and free schools (but hey, we get to be the freeholders of a 999 years lease so you know, it's not privatisation at all, no sirree) but we are being ripped off by the fat cats organising the whole thing?

ravenAK Wed 24-Apr-13 23:50:04

Yep, that's pretty much it, edam.

& then there's Mrs Blurt, of course.


AuntySammy Fri 26-Apr-13 01:31:06

my nephew is 4 and in a reception class doing formal learning from 8.50 until 3.15 pm 5 days a week, school is exhausting for him either leave the day as it is for infants gradually increasing for juniors and those at secondary school or leave the school day as it is completely as exhausting for children the long day especially the little ones and older children need time to do their homework - when does this come in? or are children supposed to miss vitally important sleep?! If the government wishes to lengthen a school day stop sending children to school at 4 and keep them in nursery/preschool untila ge 6 or 7 as in other countries around the world where there are naptimes and learning is less formal and a mixture of play, creative activities and short periods of formal adult lead activities as this is more suited to young children. I don't think my DN (dear nephew) would cope with being at school for a longer day - he is 5 in July and very intelligent but he gets so tired, and although he can read, is getting very good at knowing his sounds, is has good maths skills, is very verbal (he spoke in full sentences and used descriptive language before the age of 2 and knew all his colours then - once when he was 20 months I asked him Tyler what colour is my dress? his reply "thats Aunty Sammy's purple dress, Aunty Sammy's purple sparkly dress") and has lots of knowledge and an amazing memory the only word he can write by himself is his name - why because he was not and is still not ready for writing, he is just to young for it. Tyler can also express his own opinions and feelings very well verbally, and hold an adult conversation his understanding is beyond his age of 4.9 months. An extra year or 2 at nursery may have benefitted his physical and social skills though as there is more emphasis on physical and social development at Nursery than there seems to be in school. on the downside childcare here is expensive :-(

jensun Sun 28-Apr-13 12:00:48

Gove is really really stupid. No forward thinking at all. If the school day becomes longer then rush hour will become chaos hour. Is he willing to build more roads for this purpose? He probably has not thought of that the idiot.
Also I would rather spend time with my daughter so that she has a secure loving upbringing so that she grows up into a normal human being. Countries with the lowest crime rates start school at 7.30am and finish at around 1.30pm. If we increase the amount of time our children spend in schools we will be doing long term psychological damage, family values will diminish. Gove is too thick to even remotely understand that.

Solopower1 Fri 03-May-13 18:32:16

There are so many different ways of organising the school day and term - why just look to East Asia? My students tell me that in China, even very small children don't finish school until 10.00pm - they eat and sleep there in the afternoon, too. I teach some of the most successful products of this education system, and they really do vary just as much as the products of our own systems. Only - when you ask them what they did in their free time when they were children, they have nothing to say.

In many European countries, the school day ends at 4.00, 5.00 or 6.00, depending on the age of the pupils, plus they often have private classes several times a week until nine or ten. And they get two or three months in the summer.

It's a mistake, imo, to think we can copy some other country's education system without taking into account all the different factors that make it work (or not) in that country. In Britain we're not like anywhere else. We need our own system that suits our own society.

I think it boils down to who you think should spend most time with your kids. Personally, I like the idea of longer school days (Edinburgh schools finish at 12.30 ish on Fridays, even for sixth formers), but I don't think children should be at a desk all that time. After 4.00 or so, people are tired (not just children). So why not have the sixth formers and local university students coming in, earning money and running the clubs, overseeing HW etc? They get it on their CV,the kids benefit from the fun after school club-type activities.

But Gove. He'll do anything for a bit of attention. Best ignore him really.

(Has all this already been said up thread? Sorry if so. I've only just come in, and haven't yet read all the comments. Will make a cup of tea and read).

Solopower1 Fri 03-May-13 18:33:03

Hate the OP's teacher-scorning tone. Why?

Solopower1 Fri 03-May-13 18:40:15

"If you look at the length of the school day in England, the length of the summer holiday, and we compare it to the extra tuition and support that children are receiving elsewhere, then we are fighting or actually running in this global race in a way that ensures that we start with a significant handicap".

Where to start? So we are to compare our school days and terms to some other country's system of extra tuition and support? The people in our country who get extra tuition and support do just as well as those in other countries. While the children who don't get the support do just as badly. Doh.

And what race? Why does he set such limited goals for education in this way?

There's so much that's wrong with the man.

Solopower1 Fri 03-May-13 18:41:45

Oooops. Think I'm the only person on here now. La la la la la.

Great post, Solopower. Have a brew.

Mmm, don't mind if I do. <trundles off>

DumSpiroSpero Tue 07-May-13 08:07:26

^I also think it's bollocks that teachers need a six week break to recharge their batteries

I suggest you spend a summer term working at a school, throw in some after school activities/discos and a residential trip to staff, plus the annual summer Faye to organize and staff and maybe a visit from Ofsted thrown into the mix.

Then come back and tell us you feel the same way.

DH and I are both support staff in schools and we are absolutely knackered by the end of July so God only knows how the teachers must feel. DD only does a a couple of extra-curricular activities, but add on music practice and homework and she needs the break too.

Erebus Tue 07-May-13 17:54:11

Dum - I wouldn't necessarily seek to reduce teachers' holidays overall- but sorry, I feel moved to say the stress and pressure of which you speak in relation to teachers' work-load isn't exclusive to teachers at all. Not any more, if ever it was.

I could say 'Try being a HCP', for instance. With my 24 years experience, I get 6 weeks A/L. I also, at 50, have to work (part-time, mind!), 3 x 8am -5.45pm days a week (cos that's 'a day' in my area, now). A teacher's lunch break may be taken up with running a pre-arranged club, or marking. Most of the last 'lunch-breaks' I've 'experienced' have involved working straight through, sandwich in one hand, pressing buttons with the other. And that is by no means unusual.

The point is, entirely, if I were a teacher these days (or a teachers' union), I'd be a bit careful of wheeling out the Stress thing. Long hours, stress, pressure, targets, and no breaks are utterly part and parcel of many, many peoples' work-loads these days. No, I by no means advocate 'a race to the bottom' but please be more inventive than 'A teacher's job is high-pressure'. Even 'My terms and conditions are hard won and I'm not about to give them up without a fight' would earn my respect, more! You run the risk of increasingly less support, citing 'pressure' and 'burn-out', as others think 'Welcome to my world'.

BoffinMum Tue 07-May-13 18:06:43

Solo, he is trying to make schooling so dreadful everyone goes private. wink

EvilTwins Tue 07-May-13 18:48:45

Erebus, I take your point, and personally I don't feel that I work any harder over a year than my DH, who is a management consultant. I do, however, think it's a different sort of pressure, and that the sort of pressure teachers are under is unique to the job. Not everyone can handle it. I don't think that means teaching is harder, but neither do I think it's something everyone can do. I teach in a secondary school. It's a small school with about 40 teachers. At the moment, 6 are off with long term stress. That in itself puts more pressure on the rest of us as a school can't cancel/reschedule lessons in the same way meetings could be dealt with in an office, for example. No child or parent wants to be taught by a succession of supply teachers, no teacher wants to do a massive amount of cover. The Head at my school is paying those members of staff even though they're not there, she can't dismiss or make them redundant, obviously, can't advertise to replace them and can't even contact them to discuss their situations. It does make it stressful.

Erebus Tue 07-May-13 20:40:07

Absolutely, evil- I totally get where you're coming from, but, for the sake of backing up what I said, a person is off my team because of stress right now; My team consist of 6 people, and, like you, I can't reschedule my workload- patients still need their diagnostic tests and we get heavily fined if any 'breach' so we don't have the 'stick 'em with a supply teacher' option! At DSs' high achieving comp, my DSs are in what's called 'canteen cover' at least twice a week each, where one teacher sits, supervising up to 90 DC in the canteen, DC whose regular teacher is sick or absent for another reason. He doesn't 'teach', he supervises and the DC must maintain absolute silence throughout, doing pre-set work.

As a result of this person being off, instead of being 'on-call' 1:6, it's 1:5. That means that, with 20 minutes notice, maybe at 3 a.m, having already worked 9 odd hours that day (and due to do the same again tomorrow) I have to be up, dressed, capable of driving 7 miles and compos mentis enough to perform the more difficult aspects of my job (as I've been called because a more junior member of staff, the one on the overnight shift, is out of their depth). I am 'covering' that staff absence for a 1/6 of my working time, as are my remaining colleagues.

The sort of pressure I'm under is also 'unique to my job'. And I could up the ante and suggest that people's very lives are at stake in mine, not a grade point at GCSE.

But still I am not advocating 'a race to the bottom', just suggesting that teachers' unions are not wise in playing the 'But we're special' card these days. So am I but the government has frozen my pay, increased my retiring age, increased my pension contributions and decreased my pension. And I get 6 weeks annual leave a year. Oh, and upped my hours by 2.5 a week for free.

PS, yes your Head can contact these people and discuss their situation. In fact, she has to! It isn't 'harassment', it's part of their 'return to work' package which, these days, can be far more proactive, legally and medically, than it used to be. This is a good thing: it 'forces' employers to not just hand-wring about a MH condition but to positively act in a way that will help the staff member who's off sick to reintegrate; and as an aside, prevents any possible malingering. I am not suggesting your colleagues are malingering, not for a second: stress is a real and horrible condition; but, there's no doubt about it, within my larger dept, 2 people (out of several over a period of time) who went off on stress leave were suddenly able to return to full capacity when, having refused to engage with the process that may well have assisted their return to health, were called in to attend Occupational Health interviews (at their own convenience) where 'alternative employment' was to be discussed. Disappointingly, both were 'older' employees, still believing that citing 'stress' lead to early retirement and a gold-plated pension.

EvilTwins Tue 07-May-13 21:56:41

She's told me she's not allowed to contact them- as have line managers. Highly frustrating.

I expect there are many jobs with "unique" stresses.

Your DS's "canteen cover" situation sounds shit, by the way.

Erebus Wed 08-May-13 08:12:37

Are you 'private'? The public sector has procedures for handling stress that have to be followed! And 'not doing anything' isn't one of them. THAT sounds 'shit' !grin

Canteen cover is hardly ideal but we grit our teeth and trust that they're compensated for by better management etc etc, if that teacher's been away from class, 'managing'.

To the best of my knowledge, the school doesn't actually have any teachers off on stress right now. It is quite well managed and the DC are, by and large, MC and 'school-ready' so the stressors come from targets and an ever changing NC rather than 'the working day'.

EvilTwins Wed 08-May-13 17:52:24

No, we're not private. These colleagues have been off for several months in some cases. Their stress is being dealt with- AFAIK, they're all under the care of their GPs and occupational health. I think the unions are involved and that's why the head has been told to leave them alone.

Solopower1 Wed 08-May-13 19:09:52

It isn't about the teachers, though, is it? Or it shouldn't be. What is best for the kids? And how do we decide?

How do we know what's best for children? We do the research: Three schools in the same area, same demographic etc etc - let's assume that's possible for a minute. So one school finishes at 3 one at 4 and one at 5 for a whole school year. Then how do you calculate 'success'? Exam results? Fewest number of kids and teachers having nervous breakdowns? Number of people who get good jobs in 10 years' time?People who measure themselves as happiest on a 1-10 scale?

My point is, a statement like 'Let's lengthen the school day and shorten the holidays' is not based on what is good for children or teachers or parents - because that is impossible to know for certain. What it is based on is a political agenda and/or a need to save money and/or win votes. I expect this is a bit of all of the above. And it's probably aimed at making it easier for parents to work longer hours; showing teachers (and therefore the public sector) in a bad light; getting more out of teachers for the same money; and trying to trick the public into thinking that the govt are trying to improve the education system (because if you spend longer at school you must be learning more, right??). Also, it's part of the agenda to frame everything as a race or a competition, because that is the only way in which these people (Gove and cronies) know how to function, and it's the only way they think society can function.

When in fact, as we all know, they are setting us all at each others' throats and ripping society apart.

Cynical, moi?

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