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Primary School Session Time Change - Impact on working parents - Advice please

(15 Posts)
Floor7StaffordTower Wed 24-Nov-10 00:41:06

Hi, DD and DS's primary school is proposing to change school session times - with a shorter lunch hour meaning an earlier end to the school day. I don't have a problem with the reason for this, but it will have a big (nearly half my salary) impact on my/our income if I have to pay for the after school club for 2 children 5 days a week. My working hours fit with my kid's school & can't be changed - certainly can't be shortened.

Has anyone has gone through something like this? Does anyone have any suggestions about how to approach the school over this - it will affect a lot of people. I know we will have a meeting with the governors, but this dilemma is about the knock on effect, rather than the actual change (which I actually agree with). I don't think they need to give consideration to this (may be wrong?) so need to get them onside...

In an ideal world I would hope the school could lay on some sort of after school care for the extra half hour to bring it up to the old end of school time. Seems silly to pay for 2 hrs of care when I only need a v short time.

Any advice is very welcome! Thank you!

RoadArt Wed 24-Nov-10 01:16:11

i cant really offer much advice, but have they consulted with parents, and what was the majority view?

If all parents are against it, will they still do it?

If the majority of parents dont comment the Governors wont know its an issue.

There is obviously a good reason for them changing the day, what are the hours at the moment?

nativityplayreject Wed 24-Nov-10 06:04:18

I would suspect that they have not thought this through in terms of financial consequences on working parents. Can the parents affected get together and seek support from the parents who will not be affected. Presumably the school will make a saving in terms of the hours of lunch-time supervisors, and this may be the unstated true reason for wanting to do this. Do they realise that these savings will effectively be costing your family additional expense in terms of after school care which I suspect , as at our school, cannot be paid for by the hour but is for the full "session" whether you need 30 mins or 3 hours.

The impact on your family's financial security needs to be assessed reasonably without over-egging it. Try to nip the suggestion in the bud a.s.a.p. so that it does not have time to gather more support.

If they will not take heed, I would suggest involving your local MP.

IndigoBell Wed 24-Nov-10 08:44:27

Our HT tried to do this, but it has to be approved by the governors, and the governors voted against it. (For exactly the reason you described)

So you best bet is to talk to the governors about how much you don't want this to happen.

crazymum53 Wed 24-Nov-10 09:29:11

I used to be Clerk to Governors and I seem to remember that to do this they need to consult the parents and get the approval of the LEA.
My dds school used to do this finish at 3pm with no after school club but the new Head changed the finishing time to 3.15pm for KS1 and 3.20 pm for KS2.

Goingspare Wed 24-Nov-10 09:46:49

Our school changed from 3.30 to 3.15 and the response to working parents was 'we provide and after-school club'. The club did then start offering a different rate for a short stay (up to one hour), alongside the standard rate (up to 6pm).

Goingspare Wed 24-Nov-10 09:47:10

an after-school club.

witchwithallthetrimmings Wed 24-Nov-10 09:59:36

our school finishes at 2.45 again with a short lunch break and it is a nightmare for anybody but SAHM without younger siblings. (lunch time nap) Also I think children benefit from having a longer break- more chance to run around before going back to afternoon school. BUT there are obvious cost savings - less lunch time cover for example.
In terms of the practicalities I think the best thing is to do a swap with another parent. Could someone else look after your dcs for half an hour if you did something in return (take them to school for example) or you could switch your hours so that you did two longer days where they went to someone else's house after school and then you looked after the same children in the other days

RustyBear Wed 24-Nov-10 10:07:07

It depends what kind of school it is. If it's a community, community special or voluntary controlled schools, they have to use the consultation procedure outlined in The Changing of School Session Times (England) Regulations 1999

Under those regulations, a change to the start or end of a school day can only be brought in at the beginning of a school year (changes to other times can be brought in at the start of a school term)

They must consult the LEA, the head and all staff and prepare a statement which is given to all parents. They must also hold a meeting which is open to all parents and which gives an opportunity for discussion, and must 'consider' any comments made at the meeting. Once they have decided, they must give 3 months notice of changes to the beginning or end of the school day, and 6 weeks notice of changes to any other time.

Foundation, foundation special, or voluntary aided schools don't have to follow these regulations, they only have a general legal obligation to 'act reasonably' The government "recommends wide consultation and, if any changes are made, that ample notice be given so that parents, teachers and others can plan accordingly."

I would guess that if the reason for the change is mainly financial, they are not going to want/be able to provide care at the end of school, though they might be willing to do so for a transitional period.

myredcardigan Wed 24-Nov-10 11:23:41

We did this but as we were increasing the day by 15mins there was very little objection and it went through fairly smoothly. However, parents were consulted officially by letter, the LEA notified and the governors took a vote.

When I was p/t, my DC's school finished 20mins later than mine. I would get there 10mins after that. I had to pay for the full 3hour session just for that 10mins. Some days, if they were slighly late getting across from class, I'd arrive and they wouldn't even have taken their coats off yet!

At least after we increased our school hours I felt like I was getting a bit more for my money.

Floor7StaffordTower Wed 24-Nov-10 12:24:16

Thanks for this, and your good suggestions.

We are approaching the consultation with parents stage (when school staff are also parents the word gets out sooner than it should on paper as they get consulted first), so no official views expressed yet... and the change wouldn't happen till next academic year when it is allowable.

The idea is to shorten the lunch hour (i believe it is up to 1.5 hrs at present) which many people agree is too long esp for the infants and in cold weather - which means ending school 20 mins earlier too - will be 3:00 insted of 3:20. I am sure there are of course also financial savings to be made that way too.

I don't think they have thought of the impact on people who work - after school clubs are not cheap, and you're right, you have to pay for the whole session even if you only need 20 mins. Childminders of course aren't a lot cheaper.

Helping each other out is of course a great idea, thing is when we do that already there comes a point when you feel you are taking the mick, & unfortunately for me, also working in a school (elsewhere), I can't change my 5 day school hours week... lucky to have that kind of a job I know but it's only worth it if it fits. Will be interesting to see what happens, at least we are getting lots of time to look for new jobs....... hmm

IndigoBell Wed 24-Nov-10 13:14:25

Sounds exactly like our school. HT wanted to shorten long lunch hour. Everyone agreed it was a good idea in theory - but it would impact working parents too much.

All you need to do is convince the majority of governors - and it can't go ahead.

Callisto Wed 24-Nov-10 14:02:56

DD's school finishes at 3pm and it doesn't seem to affect anyone too badly, and the vast majority of parents seem to work. I can't see how an extra half hour will make so much difference financially. confused

RustyBear Wed 24-Nov-10 15:31:41

The problem is not so much that half an hour makes a lot of difference, but that people have already got jobs working around the existing arrangements - ie a 3.20 pm finish.

Maybe the best way would be to give notice now that they were going to change at a future date so people could ensure new jobs worked around the new times and offer transitional child care in the mean time.
But I have no idea wheteher that would actually work in the practical situation of that particular school....

Floor7StaffordTower Fri 26-Nov-10 00:34:51

Indigobell that's encouraging that it was overturned, fingers crossed that enough people are opinionated enough to make comments.

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