Not all that glitters is gold

29 Apr

I previously blogged on why Michael Gove’s plans to increase the school day and reduce the school holidays made little sense in terms of educational performance and were not supported by international comparisons.

I thought I’d focus this blog on the impact the plans would have on the pupil and family.

Some parents may think ‘great these plans will help me with family holidays.’ The reality is that it is naïve to expect travel companies to do anything other than increase their prices if the window to take holidays is shortened. The result will either be more expensive holidays or more children being taken out of school during term time.

The other concern for families is that if schools vary their holidays it could cause chaos for those with two children in different schools. Imagine you have one child in a comprehensive and one in a primary school and those two schools have different holidays.  It is impossible for the family to have a holiday together without one child missing school.

Educationally it shouldn’t be overestimated that not everything children learn, especially the development of their social skills, is learnt in the classroom. It is important that children have life experiences outside a school setting.

We also know the reality is that children, especially young ones, are often exhausted at the end of the school day and long terms.

This isn’t to say that children shouldn’t have access to after school activities such as sport, drama, arts etc. and the majority of schools provide this in teacher’s spare time. However, just as holidays are essential to allow teachers to recharge, prepare and plan for the forthcoming academic year; children need that time also.

Of course what Michael Gove is really aiming for, as has been the driver behind the changes to pay and pensions, is the de-regulation of the school system. Why? Well by de-regulating education it is easier to open it up to private profit-making companies. So, if you are a parent thinking ‘I wouldn’t mind a longer school day’, take a second to think if you would also like your child’s education to be driven by profit margins. Do you want teachers who are focused on educational achievement or schools focused on squeezing every last penny saving out of your child’s future?

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