Is this the perfect 2015 Election promise?

I have a simple, single sentence promise to be adopted by whichever politician wants to win the General Election in 2015. I suspect that by transforming the lives of most households in the UK within 2 years of the Election, this promise might win the 2020 Election too!

The perfect 2015 Election promise needs to tick the following boxes:

– Address the cost of living crisis, especially that faced by hard working, but low income families

– Capture the imagination of women voters, especially those aged 30-45.

– Show that the political party is on the side of ordinary families against vested interests

– Reverse the view that the next generation will not have it as good as their parents

– Produce a trump card that shows we know how to win the global economic race 

– Be quick to happen, with a simple lever pulled in Whitehall, and most households having their life transformed within 2 years. 

– Not cost too much, but where it does cost more that money needs to be an obvious investment in the future

– Prove that politicians can do big things that matter in the real world, and quickly. 

A daunting checklist – but there is an answer staring us in the face. What about this for a simple manifesto promise – “From September 2016, all state funded schools will, by law, provide 45 hours of education per week for 45 weeks of the year”. This increase by two-thirds in the time that kids spend at school is designed to allow all parents to work full-time without the need for additional childcare. The average employment leave would cover all school holidays. The average working day would give most parents the chance to do a full time job, in between dropping off and picking up their kids. It introduces the length of day and school year which has been shown to have dramatic results on kids’ education in the US. It gives teachers the same sort of working week and annual holidays as other hard working professionals. It’s disruptive enough to be a real game changer in education, in employment and the economy more generally. 

We will come to the education arguments (and the teacher fury) in a moment. But the role schools play in our national and family life is far too important to leave to teachers. And it’s certainly too important to leave to their knee-jerk, as opposed to thoughtful, responses. So let’s focus on some of the non-educational arguments first. Top of the list is allowing more women to work and more women who work to work more. Women working is vital to our economic growth. There are estimated to be at least 1m more women who would work if childcare was easier. That’s a big boost to our workforce, not just in quantity, but critically in quality given the numbers of highly skilled women not working, or not working full time. Four out of ten stay-at-home mums want to work and a fifth of mums who work want to do more hours. Only just over half of single mothers work, compared to nearly three-quarters of mums with partners. 70% of working mothers earn the same as the father or more. This is a big issue for lower middle income (LMI) families (those whose situation is superbly covered by the always excellent Resolution Foundation). Over the last few decades, male breadwinners in LMI families have brought home less and income growth has depended on in-work benefits from the State and female employment. We have passed the high-water mark of what benefits can be expected to provide. So we need to focus on boosting female employment. This grew strongly in the 1970s and 1980s, but went nowhere in the 1990s and 2000’s.  Women are now half of the workforce, but 42% are part-time, compared to just 12% of men. Part-time women earn on average £8.12 per hour (vs full time on£12.00), but this means that 50% earn less than £8.12. As well as tackling low wages (see my post on the Minimum Wage), the best thing we can do to relieve poverty and the cost of living crisis is to help more women work more. Two-thirds of women say that affordable childcare is the biggest barrier, with 40% citing it as the main barrier. Full-time school should provide all the free childcare that most people could want. Imagine if, of the 5m women working part-time for an average of 18 hours per week, 20% worked 10 hours more (as they tell pollsters that they want) and 1m mums who don’t work also started working, with half being full time and half doing 18 hours per week. That’s 2m mums working more, 1m full time equivalent extra workers. This would give the UK the same sort of female employment rates as the Scandanavian countries. The State would save money – it wouldn’t have to pay parents for school age childcare costs (through all its existing vouchers and credits) and of course, it would have the tax revenues of the new workers, it could expect parents on benefits to work more. The non-educational benefits go much further. Just one example is telling. 30% of all youth offending happens between 3 and 6pm each day, in the period between school finishing and parents getting home. Full time school would eliminate this period, the peak period of youth offending. 

But is it really a good idea for kids to spend so much time at school? The key answer to that question lies in what they do with the time at school. But first, let’s check the numbers. The 45/45 school year equals 2025 hours. 45 hours is 9 to 6, or 830 to 530. Assuming 8 hours sleep each day, a kid has 5,840 waking hours each year. That means kids would still only be at school for about a third of their waking hours. Put that way, doesn’t it seem half-hearted that they currently only spend about a fifth of their waking hours at school? A two-thirds increase in education still only equals a third of a child’s time. So in numerical terms, it is clearly not too much. What about the quality of the experience? We know that the current curriculum is overloaded. In most Western countries there has been huge change in the curriculum in the last couple of decades, but no increase in the time  available. The UK positives are that more time is spent on English, Maths, assessment and (for older kids) vocational subjects. But in the zero sum curriculum, time spent on other subjects has declined to make room. The shortage of teaching hours also means that the teaching moves too quickly – there is lots to cover, not much time to explore it deeply and rarely time to help kids play catch up if they didn’t get it first time. Teachers are stressed, children are rushed and learning is frustrated. We also know that the long school holidays impact badly on kids’ progression. This impacts most badly on poorer kids. Malcolm Gladwell showed, in Outliers, that poor kids make the same progress as better-off kids during the school year, but they stagnate during the long holidays, whilst better-off kids continue to progress. The main advantage enjoyed by better-off kids in education is that they need school less than poorer kids. I can remember being infuriated by my (then) 8 year old daughter’s school which refused to set any homework activities as “they only help middle class kids, so out of fairness we don’t give homework to any of the kids”. The levelling down stills sends a chill down my spine, but we could address the point by levelling up. Having a longer school day allows for homework to be both set and completed within school hours, like the “prep” in the poshest of schools. Let’s not forget that the better-off will help themselves to more education. There are the elite boarding schools. Then there are the private day schools with 8 hours a week more teaching, plus often Saturday lessons and / or sport. In the state sector, there is the booming industry in tutors. In Japan, for all its schooling, 45% of kids over 14 are spending an average of a further 5 hours per week at the Juku, getting private tutoring. 

It is often said that we should only make a move like this if we have evidence. Well, to a point. The current UK debate is missing even that point. There is a lot of flailing around comparing international countries, their education success and the amount of schooling they get. There has been a recent flurry of comparing UK school hours to those who do better than us in international educational tests. But it is impossible to isolate just this one variable when comparing UK or US educational outcomes with, say, South Korea on the one hand and Finland on the other. The best way to find evidence is to look at variation in hours within similar schools within similar areas in the same country. There is now growing evidence from the US that extended hours makes a big difference – and more difference than many of the other things into which lots of money is being poured ( class size, better teachers, etc). Let’s look at specific examples.The Expanded Learning Time experiments in Massachussets has added 2 hours per day to pilot schools. The effect? After just 1 year, there was a 44% boost in maths proficiency, 39% in English and 19% in Science. And the achievement gap narrowed too – by 35% in English. The 57 KIPP schools in the US achieve remarkable results in the US’ most deprived areas. With 80% of kids from low income families and 90% African American or Latino, the KIPP schools’ results are 2 to 3 times better than similar schools elsewhere. The school day at KIPP? It’s 7.30-5.00, with additional Saturday sessions and summer schools too. Some smart research in the US has proven the opposite effect when school hours are reduced – when schools are closed by snow, achievement falls, in proportion to the time closed. The evidence is getting louder. In 2013, 5 US States extended learning hours by 300 hours ( the equivalent of 10 weeks extra teaching). 

What about the teachers? In schools with extended hours, the biggest supporters have become the teachers. But surely they must resent the extra hours, the longer days? Aren’t they already at breaking point? How can they be supportive? Firstly, having more time each day, means that lessons are less rushed, less stressful, more relaxed. There is more time on the task – time to explain, to repeat, to explore. Secondly, schools with extended time find new ways to free up teachers from teaching. For example, the US elementary school where there is a big PE session everyday ( not just a small one once a week as before) taken by outside sports coaches and supervised by teaching assistants. During these sessions, teachers within the same grade get time to plan work together. Thirdly, some schools have added extra weeks onto the year without reducing teacher holidays by staggering teacher leave across the year. Fourthly, schools have brought a more diverse mix of volunteers, community groups and businesses into the longer curriculum, using the extra hours for an exponential increase in cultural experiences. Finally, schools with more time think harder about how to organise that time. Using data to individualise programmes for kids, they begin to catch up with the technological ability of their kids and let them access the almost infinite range of online activities. 

In simple terms what we are doing is giving kids the equivalent of an extra 7 years of compulsory education between the ages of 5 and 16 and giving teachers almost no time constraints. This is not about creating Gradgrind Academies which didactically stuff every waking hour with facts, figures and tests. It is the opposite. It’s about creating a lot of space in the day for play, creativity, relaxation, exploration and exercise. it’s about creating acres of space across the year for trips, volunteering, personal projects, work experiences, character building and bonding. It’s about making sure that kids don’t fall behind or fail to understand. It’s about schools opening their doors to let the wider community come in to help nurture and educate local kids. It’s about disrupting the current inertia so much that schools really do fundamentally re-think how their school operates. 

What about the money? It’s bound to need some new money. But we already have the buildings and the staff to cover most of it. There is existing money to recycle. An obvious example is teaching assistants and what they currently do. There is now roughly 1 teaching assistant for each 2 teachers. And yet the evidence shows that not only do they have no positive impact, but they seem to have a negative impact. Kids are better off without them. That clearly comes down to how they are used. One simple way to redeploy this resource in the 45/45 school year which I’m proposing is for TAs to supervise group activities independent of teachers. If the 200,000 or so TAs were in charge of activities (e.g. supervising homework or enrichment activities or online education sessions), this could leave teachers free to use large parts of the longer day for preparation and marking. We also need to tap into the volunteering spirit in local communities – what is stop us bringing the outside world into the school? For example, why not bring Scouts, Guides and Cadets into the school day? Or local football clubs? Or dance classes? The extra-curricular could come into the curriculum – but for all kids, not just those with supportive or able parents. We shouldn’t rush to put large amounts of money into the system. Necessity is definitely the right mother for the invention needed to take advantage of all this new time, whilst giving teachers the time they need beyond teaching. But new money should be found. More people working, less youth crime – the immediate fiscal benefits can pay for a good deal of any extra cost. But the real payback comes from a transformed generation who will leave their extended education with far higher skills and earning potential than the current generation. That will pay-off more than any infrastructure projects. So we should make this our top investment priority – creating a new category in capital expenditure rules for “human capital”. 

Is this idea too much too soon? Well, I always think a good way to test out an apparently too bold policy idea is to ask “If this new idea had been well established for the last 20 years and we proposed scrapping it, what would be the public reaction today? Relief, indifference, opposition?” Let’s assume that today’s parents had grown up expecting that schools were open 45 weeks a year and 45 hours per week. This fitted into their full time jobs. They got the same holidays as their kids and a working day that fitted inside school hours. Their kids had a broad and rich education, with lots of enrichment. And then, in order to please teachers and save a little money, the Government of the day proposed closing schools for 7 weeks a year and shortening the school day by 2.5 hours. Suddenly, a couple of million staff (mostly women, probably) would have to give up work, or go part-time. School-life would be pared down to the bone – a crammed day, with stressful lessons, kids falling behind, kids falling out, no time of the sports or arts, no place for the community in the curriculum. There would be uproar. An Election promise to go back to what we actually have today would be the biggest vote loser in history. So why wouldn’t an Election promise for my 45 / 45 model be the biggest vote winner since 1945? It must at least be good for a 45% share of the vote. 45 – remember the number!  



64 thoughts on “Is this the perfect 2015 Election promise?

  1. Dear Sir,

    Schools Improvement Net kindly posted the below piece.
    I hope it is informative to you.


    “The real reason behind the Asian education success – a perspective from Japan”

    If you were the secretary of state for education and interested in the high performance of Asian countries in the latest PISA study (Programme for International Student Assessment), you would read official reports, have some briefings by professors of education, or attend some conferences held by the governments of those countries. And the result is that you would be doomed to miss the point, because most young Asians put their passion and energy not in school, but in shadow education (supplementary education or private tutoring after school).

    The Asian Development Bank in 2012 reported stunning facts:

    *In China, the 2004 Urban Household Education and Employment Survey of 4,772 households indicated that 73.8% of primary students were receiving supplementary lessons, including in non-academic subjects. Proportions in lower and upper secondary were 65.6% and 53.5%…

    *In Hong Kong, a 2009 telephone survey of 521 students found that 72.5% of upper primary students had received tutoring; and a survey of 898 secondary students found that 72.5% in lower secondary had received tutoring, while proportions in middle and senior secondary were 81.9% and 85.5%, respectively.

    *In South Korea, in 2008, 87.9% of elementary school pupils were estimated to be receiving tutoring. In middle school the proportion was 72.5%; and in general high school it was 60.5%.

    *In Singapore, a 2008 newspaper report stated that 97% of students polled at the primary, middle, and senior secondary levels were receiving tutoring.

    These surveys are not necessarily large in scale but the results are too strong to be neglected.

    Shadow education in Japan, which is usually called juku, is probably the most sophisticated and well-developed amongst the Asian nations.

    According to the Ministry of Industry of Japan, there are more than 50,000 juku companies and the industry has already grown to a 10 billion US$ market. Several big companies have set up their own publishing houses and some launched satellites for their distance learning about fifteen years before the Internet video-on-demand system came into use.

    Nowadays the business has penetrated into the school activity. Some jukus provide remedial courses in public [state] schools and some hold training courses for school teachers.

    However, the near half-century of history of jukus is tainted with criticism and hate speeches from those within the school system and other opinion leaders, probably because they feel that school education is threatened by them.

    Thus, despite its enormous popularity and impact, the jukus phenomenon has never been sufficiently studied as a research subject, though the commercial guide books and magazine articles on the juku service are abundantly available in Japan.

    Shadow education has hardly been mentioned in official documents, because, perhaps, it is difficult to grasp the actual situation in some countries and, in Japan, because of the reluctance of the authorities to discuss it openly.

    Both the UK education secretary and the shadow education secretary have strongly suggested learning from Asian experiences of education, but it is unlikely that they have learned about the real situation. However, this is not their fault: it is due to the lack of research and the reluctance of the authorities to discuss the role of the shadow education system.

    International educational assessments are obviously designed to gauge how effectively the school system functions in each country. However, considering the fact that all the high-performing Asian countries see this proliferation of shadow education, the latest PISA results unwittingly highlight the impact of this every bit as much as the impact of the school system and should be judged accordingly.


    Shadow Education: Private Supplementary Tutoring and Its Implications for Policy Makers in Asia

    Japan’s cramming schools. Testing times.

    Juku – the Stealth Force of Education and the Deterioration of Schools in Japan


    Best regards

    Manabu Watanabe

    • Paul, I’m not sure if you’ve eve spent much time with teachers but I live with one. My wife teaches Japanese, full time, at a “good” grammar school in Kent. The school has high achieving, motivated pupils who tend to approach their education with enthusiasm and generally have excellent attendance and minimal behavioural issues.
      Even in an environment like this my wife regularly works – and i’m not including time to travel to and from work – 10 hour days at her school. She also works for an hour at home most evening and then a few hours over weekends. She also spends up to a third of most of her holiday time catching up on marking, preparing lesson plans and generally “doing her job” so that when she goes back in to school for term time she can cope with the enormous workloads lumped on to teachers.
      I fail to see how asking teachers to work longer hours is going to improve the current situation. Surely MORE teachers (good for employment) working the same or – god forbid – fewer hours would actually improve achievement and engagement levels at schools. A teacher who has time to properly plan a lesson will inevitably teach a better lesson and be able to spend more time engaging with students which, from distant memory, always seems to have a motivating effect on pupils in a class room.
      Longer hours and fewer holiday days would in fact mean less time to do marking, planning, sleeping, eating….did I mention that my wife NEVER takes a proper lunch break? Instead she eats at her desk, while preparing lessons, helping pupils who require extra guidance and help on her subject and occasionally keeping some in for detention.
      And I’m glad that a Japanese person has been the first responder to your desperately flawed logic. Having lived in Japan, as has my wife, we would both attest to the fact that “Asian” pupils in our experience are exhausted by early afternoon at school. They are then forced to go to Jukus in the evening after school, at great expense to their parents, where they will attempt to shoehorn more facts, figures and the odd bit of English in to their flagging brains. These methods may have short term gains; cramming to pass exams and entrance exams for a school or university. But I doubt the wisdom of forcing kids to study for longer and longer periods of time when only a handful of children will respond to teaching and learning in this way…particularly when they will be half asleep, day-dreaming of going home to bed.
      Manabu-san (above) says that UK politicians shouldn’t be at fault for not fully understanding the complexities of the ‘Asian’ education system but to me it feels like these widely accepted misconceptions are rife in the current government’s thinking on education. I mean, why actually carry out rigorous research in to a subject and consult people involved in education on a day to day basis when you can make headline-grabbing, bold statements influenced by perceived notions of what works for other countries?

  2. This really is twaddle ( I cannot come up with a more appropriate word). I taught for 33 years, starting in a state grammar school, then in a series of sixth form colleges. The great bulk of my time was teaching exam courses to bright, demanding students ( not ‘kids’). Each hour in the classroom required at least one and a half hours of ‘backoffice’ time, mostly preparing and marking. Throughout most of my career that translated into 10 hours of work on each schoolday, then a day at the weekend. To mark just one significant piece of work from each of your students would take 15-20 hours each week. The idea that a school could now deliver 45 hours of quality teaching ( and learning) with no significant increase in the number of teachers is plainly nonsensical. It is deeply worrying that someone feels able to make such radical proposals whilst having such a weak grasp of life in schools and colleges.

    • The comment in the article that ”the role schools play in our national and family life is far too important to leave to teachers” is key to Tory policy, what sort of people do you want in the classrooms? who would want to be a teacher if the creativity and reflexivity are stripped out by the demands of business? Not me.

  3. I don’t think you have any understanding of children or education. Children are already put under too much pressure at an early age. Making them stay at school for longer hours will not make them learn more, instead it will take away valuable time to actually be children.
    The issue of childcare is not the same as the issue of the number of hours of schooling that children recieve.
    Playing political games with this issue is typical of consulants who are detatched from the reality of everyday life.

  4. Some good ideas here. In respect of the education policy, I like the idea of longer hours, spend the extra time on sport activities and save the ‘can’t concentrate’ argument! Also why not scrap all the fixed date holidays, allow pupils to take 4 or 5 weeks a year in line with someone trying to take time off work. This way holidays can be staggered, teachers have more flexibility in taking time off and more temps would be employed. Most of all, the travel companies will no longer be able to rip people off!!

  5. Dear Mr Kirby,

    As the son of two teachers, I can say the following with some confidence. Ideas similar to yours have been touted since the 1960s if not before, in particular that school holidays should be shortened. They have never been implemented for two primary reasons:

    1) If the school holidays were shortened, teachers would be likely to leave the profession in their droves.
    2) The cost of teaching staff would increase considerably, since teachers are not currently paid for their vacation time.

    Also, given that parents who do not ensure their children’s attendance at school during term time are committing an offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996, your measure would leave just seven weeks of the year in which such parents were able to go on holiday with their children. I leave you to ponder the implications and likely popularity of such a consequence.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr. Matt Wenham.

  6. What a terribly sad idea. My 7 year old daughter comes home from school at 3.30pm, extremely tired and frazzled, ready for some play time and fun. I am lucky that I can arrange my work life around school times, I know many cannot. But is the answer really to leave children at school for the whole length of an adult working day? After-school clubs where children can relax and be children are perhaps a different matter – but why should teachers have to run these?

    I know this is anecdotal, but I have lived in various places in Asia for some years, and my friends from places such as Japan and Singapore speak of the stress and anxiety caused to some children by long hours of cramming. There is debate there about what is sometimes seen as a failure of the school system to foster creativity and inventiveness – and a desire to learn from other, more ‘relaxed’ systems. It would seem foolish in the extreme to loose what our educational system is actually doing well. I should mention that I’m not a Conservative voter – I just saw this in the press, and felt I had to comment. I really hope this does not come to pass – and that if it does, parents can opt out if they would like to.

    • Re-reading your comments,you do stress the role of TAs and others, not just teachers, in running such activities, which I missed. If the 3-6pm slot is basically free childcare for working parents, with the focus on allowing children to relax and enjoy themselves, then moving that to schools just seems to be replacing what the private sector provides now (in the form of paid-for after school care) – which would presumably be pretty expensive. Regarding Brownies/Guides – in my area at least, the volunteers running these groups generally time them for post 5/6pm, so that they can fit them around their own working day.

  7. Very interesting, I was just wondering if you considered childcare providers when deciding that this would be a good choice to improve unemployment rates? This would quite simply force them all on to the unemployment line, also, I can’t speak for anyone else but if like spending time with my child, if she get up at 7.30 we have time to get dressed, eat breakfast and walk to school to be there for 8.45 if she then finishes school at 6, we have the walk home which takes it to 6.15 we then have to prepare and eat dinner, have a bath and do homework before bedtime at 7pm where is the quality family time? Then bearing in mind that not all parents are lucky enough to work 9-5 Monday to Friday so may have to work weekends and evenings who do they get to care for their children from 6pm since the childminders will all have stopped working as it is not profitable to only work 2-3 hours per day. This is a rushed poorly thought out response and I appear to have poked a few major holes in your argument, maybe try living in the real world for a while before putting forth your ‘cure all’ theories.

  8. “. It gives teachers the same sort of working week and annual holidays as other hard working professionals ” How patronising! The working week of a teacher is longer than most professionals, just because children leave at 3pm doesn’t mean that Teachers finish at 3pm, a Teachers day starts at 3/3.30pm as that is when they start the paperwork, the marking, the assessments, producing reems of evidence to satisfy the ever changing demands of the Government of the day. Half terms are generally spent working as are most other holidays.
    For someone who was a policy advisor to the Prime Minister you really have no idea about reality. If you have children I assume you are happy not seeing them very much then? Under your proposals Teachers won’t be able to be parents as they won’t see their children, and their partners won’t hang around very long either.
    Perhaps in your next role you could try being a Teacher, your friend Michael Gove made it really easy and even clueless ex-policy advisors can be teachers now. You will then find out just how difficult it is!

  9. My partner is a teacher, she starts at 7.30am and finishes at the school at 5.30pm but then has work to do when she gets home in the evenings and at the weekend. This works out at about 60 hours a week. I really think that anyone in favour of increasing the school day so that it finishes at 6pm has lost touch with reality. Schools are not there to babysit children, teachers are not childminders and schools are not there to give parents an easy time, they are there to educate children. If parents find it difficult to work full time and collect their children from school well bad luck. I am sure that most people if they put their minds to it could have a rota with fellow parents so as to always have their children collected on time, the truth is everyone wants the easy option these days. Its called being lazy. The extra financial burden that longer school days would put on to the schools is untenable, asking teachers to become childminders for 3hours on top of their working day is unacceptable and anyone who disagrees then I suggest you get yourself to university for 3 years get a teachiong degree and try it for yourselves. If you are not prepared to make sacrifices for your children then maybe you should not have had them in the first place.

  10. If your proposals become law, how are children supposed to find time to eat an evening meal, play, do homework, socialise, spend time with their families and generally have a life outside of school and how are teachers supposed to plan properly for lessons, be with their families and friends, eat an evening meal and generally have a life outside of school? People, especially children, are not robots, they’re human beings, I don’t know if you have children, but if you do your children would be affected by these proposals, unless, of course, they’re home-schooled. How would you like it if you came home from work and your child was too tired or busy with homework to spend time with you because they’d just spent a 9 hour day at school. The average working length of time an adult spends at work is 8 hours! It’s crazy to propose that a 5 year old be forced to spend more time in a school environment than the average adult spends at work! Children need a life outside of school. Under these proposals their routine would be: get up, go to school for 9hrs, come home and do up to 2hrs homework (including revision for GCSEs when they’re old enough), have an evening meal, go to bed. What about kids and teachers who have long journeys to and from school? It’d be even worse for them. Some children and many teachers have an hour+ journey to school. This would mean they’d have to be up at 6 in the morning to be ready for an hour long journey to school in time for registration at 8.30am. This equates to a 14+ hour day by the time they got into bed at night. A 14 hour day with no time to relax and be a child and have a family life. These proposals are ridiculous!

  11. you must really hate your children. Even parents who send their children to boarding school wouldn’t expect their youngsters to be put through this.
    Over the years the encroachment on children’s time has increased. They often have little lunchtime, when once they had a full hour and more . Afternoon play has gone. Governments can’t even agree whether educational achievement has improved, and insust behaviour is a problem. And so on. After 30 years and more of educatoon debate (really government diktat) it’s time to let children learn to love living.

  12. Yes it’s perfect if you want exhausted children with the joy of childhood and freedom to pursue their own interests zapped out of them, as well as virtually no teachers to work in such places as they’d all be under paid…unless you are proposing a 25% increase in salaries. Howeber, even then teachers would be massively overworked (most seem to be working 55 hours a week as it is) so are you suggesting a 70 hour week? Ah maybe I’m missing the point, perhaps schools are a cheap baby sitting service and children don’t need qaulity time with their parents.

  13. You’re having a laugh if you think I’m going to stay at school longer than 6 hours a day! I can barely cope with 8.45 until 3 let alone 8.45 until 6!!! If this actually happens, you’ll see unemployment rates go up dramatically as well as the lack of people with A-Levels or GCSE’S.

  14. I don’t know HOW this idea could possibly benefit anyone. I’m a y9 student and when I get home at about 3.30 I’ve had enough and so has everybody else. By the looks of things you have no idea what school is like. I have to get up around 7.30, and I can tell you that I have not met one person who doesn’t struggle with that. After 5 hours of lesson time (we have around an hour for break, lunch and tutor) the students AND teachers have had enough. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but even at the older years of school it’s hard to concentrate for long, and by 6 not only would it be dark but that’s a lot of evening time eaten away. It normally takes about 10-20 minutes before I get home, so by then it would basically be half 6. Not only that but I would be starving, I would normally have tea about 5:30. So it would be gone 7 and still no real free time In secondary school most people have homework, which can take about an hour maybe much more. Then it could be almost 9. Not to mention showering if you do it at night and then depending on when you go to bed you could only have between 30 minutes and maybe an hour or 2 of free time. Do you really thinks that’s ‘relaxing’ or ‘less stressful’? And as for primary school children I don’t know what contact you’ve had with children but I know some who are in BED by 6. So basically you’d be messing with everyone’s daily lives, and childcare may be an issue for some but the way you say it makes it sound like children just get in the way all the time and are second to adults’ jobs. Well in some cases that may be partly true, as parents are often the ones that provide for the family, but they do it for their CHILDREN, and if they were practically never at home there would be no real point to working to provide for them if you get only a few hours a week to see them. And if you expect 5 year olds to concentrate that long you’ve got another thing coming, most can only concentrate for around an hour at a time, sometimes more, sometimes less, before a break, and not to mention they’d miss their parents. As for holidays being shorter, I don’t know what’s got into your head. Holidays are what teachers and students live for, I can safely say that practically EVERYONE at my school, staff and students alike, love the holidays. We already have the shortest in Europe, and don’t get me started on American summers, so why shorten it even more? Are you TRYING to make the lives of children miserable and exhausting? I know you might disregard the opinion of a 14 year old girl because I’m ‘too young’ to understand, but being a student and having 2 primary school age sisters I’m just telling you how it is and what it’s like from current experience. Your ‘big plan’ by the looks of things isn’t going to inspire many voters, so I think you should change your mind and come up with something that will ACTUALLY benefit the people.

    • I am surprised that none of your respondents have even mentioned the health implications of such an ill conceived and idiotic article. If children are subjected to this sort of regimen then there will be an increase in health problems causing parents to have to take time off work to handle it and also an increase in load on the health system especially in the area of mental health.School age children are still in a vulnerable
      State and need support from there parents and families as opposed to extended time with there peers where the strongest usually impose there ideas and behavior on the weaker members of there groups not a good thing the counter balance is time spent with the influence of there families.
      In my opinion the author of this article needs to get out and live in the real world,he has no idea about reality and the problems that beset the world probably the primary one being overpopulation and that fact that everything is finite and we can not keep growing forever, and before you come up with the nonsensical
      Idea that science will solve our problems,I wouldn’t place a bet on it

  15. “So why wouldn’t an Election promise for my 45 / 45 model be the biggest vote winner since 1945?”
    As an A-level student who gets home at 6 o’clock most nights a week I can tell you that the last lesson of the day is exhausting and personally, I find it hard to focus. I get home at 6o clock but if lessons were to finish at 6 children would be home later than this. I cannot imagine children in year 7 or any year for that matter being able to cope with this change.
    Furthermore, I can tell you a fully justified reason as to why this would not be a vote winner. This is because in the winter it gets dark from 4.30 and when school finishes at 6.00 children from the age of 11 would be forced to walk home in the dark!

  16. I work in a special school and we (the staff and pupils) are on our knees after a 7/8 week term. Each break between September and July is like draining a battery without sufficient time to ever fully recharge. Its only the Summer holidays that we all truely become 100% human again. The parents we have discussed it with agree that their children would not cope with the proposed changes. It’s about quality not quantity or you will end up with very expensive childminders battling with poor behaviour, children failing to focus and becoming turned off by school, teachers squeezing more planning into less time and an increased cost to schools in covering sick or even dead teachers…(that’ll solve the government’s pension issues).
    Focused quality teaching and parents having quality time with your children is a far better balance. Apart from Switzerland the UK have the highest childcare charges in Europe. 40% of the average UK wage goes on childcare. The government needs to cap childcare not add impossible pressure to an already overloaded education system.

  17. Why have kids if you don’t want to spend any time with them? My 4-6 year olds are shattered by 3.30 and just need some home comforts and time to play and relax. The most recent study I read about Japanese and Korean pupils, was that their education was due to take on a more creative approach like ours, because pupils’ development was so stunted by a diet of rote learning and tests, tests and tests and they did not have any life skills. Many of us are saying it but no-one is listening: Kids need to be out climbing trees! Learning to be resilient individuals, instead of being their parents little ‘pets’ booked into ‘Daddy Day Care,’ sorry, School!
    There is no work life balance in teaching. I live for my holidays when I can have a little ‘me time.’ During term time, my evenings and weekends are spent planning and marking, the food-shop and housework being the only ‘break.’ We have a mentally and physically exhausting job. An endless treadmill of teaching will burn us all out. We’ll all have to go part time! Perhaps we should provide free Red Bull instead of milk to keep our children’s energy levels up!!

  18. I wonder if you have considered the parents who are teachers in this?
    Are we expected to work with other people’s children til 6pm at night and then rush off to other schools to pick up our children (as of course we shouldn’t have to pay for childcare either as working mums and dads), before spending approximately 1-1 1/2 hours with our children and then mark, assess and plan before doing it all again the next day?
    It would mean that all schools would need an extra member, or two, of staff who stays after 6pm to wait for parents who are teachers to collect their children.

  19. The 3-6pm slot could be filled with other activities, allowing theory teaching staff to do their ‘extra’ work and still even finish after an 8 hour day like most people eg 8-4pm. Then bring in part time staff to do things like sport, cooking, housekeeping and general life learning activities, something that is desperately needed for many of our children!!
    The 6 week summer break and all the other school holidays are dated! Teachers who threaten to walk away from their profession if this luxury were removed will not get any sympathy! By giving kids say, 30 days leave a year (teachers should get similar but as paid leave), will allow flexibility for pupils, staff and mostly parents who currently have to fight and fall out with their colleages to get a couple of weeks off in August!! Holidays will be staggered, nobody will get fined or threatened for taking their kids out for a couple of days at the end of term, when nothing educational is happening in school anyway!! and folk won’t have to save up a fortune for holidays and may even get more quality time with their kids as we could afford more holidays and not have to throw a coin and fall out with people for time off work!!

    • Nonsense.

      I do not want to subcontract out ‘general life learning activities’ to school staff. It’s called parenting, and as a parent I wish to do it myself. Your arguments are not child-centred. You mention ‘fighting and falling out with (work) colleagues to get a couple of weeks off in August’. I don’t know where you work, but in my experience this does not happen. People tend to cooperate rather than ‘fight and fall out’.

      It is farcical to suggest that primary school children are given 30 days off school per year. I have two boys aged 4 and 6 and there is no way that I would want them to attend school for 46 weeks a year, as you suggest. I want them to experience life outside of school – have fun, climb trees, make friends, play sport, develop hobbies and interests outside of the formal school environment. I did the same as a child and these experiences I fondly remember.

      Furthermore, in this age of austerity I don’t know where all the money to employ these extra teaching staff will come from. And of course, if summer holidays were staggered do you really think that holiday companies will slash their prices and reduce their revenue? Of course not!

      • Clearly when one looks around, not all parents are responsible enough, or even have the knowledge to pass on ‘life skills’ and sporting activities to their children. I know teenagers with degrees, but they don’t know the named of the River that flows through Paris, Hamburg or Budapest!! Nor can they make a loaf of bread! Yes many of us do teach our children these things, so maybe an opt out for some, but you missed my point…. Many parents (including teachers) leave for work at 6am and don’t Get home until 6pm!! This does not leave the quality time that is needed with our children!
        I know teachers will be extremely protective of their dated over exuberant holidays, but we need to enter the 21st Century not remain in the 19th!! 30 days was merely a figure plucked from the air because most working people get that! Maybe 40 days, whatever, the point being, families could chose their holidays together instead of fitting it into a 6 week block! We could take long weekends and short weeks away to fit in with our family arrangements without the worry or fear of repercussions that many schools/local authority’s currently threaten!
        If you work somewhere that booking 2 or 3 weeks off in August isn’t a problem, then you are most fortunate…. Or maybe you are a teacher!!

    • You do not think before you write good sir! Should it not be parents teaching their children “general life learning skills that are desperately needed,” is this not part of being a parent? Use your brain and have some common sense. So let me get this right, you will sacrifice seeing your children for the majority of the year so you can have a few cheap weeks in the sun with them once a year. I would imagine you would ship them of to a holiday camp each day of your trip, so you can relax after all you have been working all year.

  20. as a student myself I would like to remind you that we go through enough stress these days and that when we get home we have to do all the homework and revision. we don’t see our family enough as it is, I am tired as soon as I leave school nobody needs to go through so much stress and tiredness. my form in school is quite loud as there are 9girls and 21boys in my class(maybe work on school setting even classes instead) and the teachers only shout at the boys and don’t give discipline, whilst us girls sit there not learning anything because our teachers just shout. so either improve the classes so there are an even number of boys and girls or improve your teachers so I can learn something that isn’t how to get a headache

    • You have my sympathy Gaby! The fault is with a system that is structured around Performance Indicators, schedules and deadlines. The consequences of this are that teachers and pupils alike are permanently stressed and the words ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ go out of the window!! IMHO you should not be getting homework, your time at home should be with family or out of school activities. The theoretical school day should be two thirds or less of the current school day, then perhaps some of those ‘otherr’ activities could be done still at school say after 2pm! A lot to work out and requires massive change and cooperation, but would help teachers, parents & pupils nonetheless.

  21. I just feel incredibly sorry for the children if this ever actually takes place. I work with children and have a young child myself. I can assure you that by 3:30pm these children want nothing more than to relax, play with friends and usually have something to eat. As I work in a school I would have to put my child with a childminder after 6pm, by the time I get home it would be his bedtime. I can safely say I’d rather quit my job and move country rather than work under these conditions and miss my child growning up.

  22. The staff to cover it? I don;t think so, many teachers will leave the profession rather than succumb to this. This country is going to need many thousands of new teachers by 2021. This will have teachers leaving the profession rather than attract more.
    What about teachers who are parents too? Who looks after their children from 6pm until they can collect them after they finish at 6pm? I would actually like to spend more than 1/2 hour with my 6 year old between getting home from work and her going to bed. It seems you are allowed to be a teacher OR a parent but if you are both, you are penalised by not being allowed to see your children for more than a few minutes in the morning and evening at most. Children who rarely see their parents, let’s see how well balanced they turn out? Wouldn’t you rather just make all schools boarding schools then everyone could work all the hours God sends without having to see their kids at all. That;s how most of the cabinet were brought up, no surprise they want everyone else to be the same.
    “Existing money”? Teachers are only paid for the hours we work, not our holidays. If we are to be treated “the same” as other professionals then we will have to have paid holidays on top of our paid hours (and all the hours we work unpaid).
    “Teachers are stressed” – how is extending our working day going to make us less stressed? Obviously work – life balance is unimportant if you are a teacher!
    If the only issue is free childcare, why doesn’t the government make after school clubs free? This suggestion would mean making all of those workers unemployed.
    Many TAs are poorly paid, why would they want to work longer hours?

  23. As the mother of 4 and 9 year old girls I am appalled at the prospect my children should spend more time at school. I did not have children to palm them off on other people. I love spending time with them and I think that family time is valuable to them. They need time to play, be free, be children. They are already exhausted at the end of a school day. They are little children, not cramming machines. As for the holidays, I cherish those weeks off. Many teachers and head teachers will tell you they are beneficial and help re-charge the batteries, they certainly are for me. I work, I am self employed and chose my career path early on in the knowledge that I could fit it in around my children, as I always knew I wanted to be there for my children as much as possible. I know I am lucky in this respect and not everyone has this option. I fail to see however that keeping my children in school for extended hours is fair or beneficial because it will help some other parents.
    If this government doesn’t get a grip of what’s really important in this life they will end up with a generation of institutionalised robots with no creativity or initiative. This country is world renowned for it’s creativity and ingenuity…….can the same be said for China???

  24. As a fairly new addition to the teaching profession, after 10 years in civil service elsewhere, I have been astounded by the constant stream of assumptions and degradation politicians, and laymen alike, throw at teachers. Having a mother in primary and a sister in tertiary, I was well aware of the higher workload but considered the rewards of the job a suitable trade. I agree wholeheartedly that I, as someone of little experience, will take longer than average to plan/mark/grade/prepare lessons to enthral, stimulate and educate every student in my secondary maths class; averaging 60 hours a week at the moment. I achieve this extraordinary workload around my two young children and their own educational, emotional and practical needs, sacrificing sleep to get it all done. Working 39 weeks at 60 hours would, you would think, be enough to satisfy a full-time job’s criteria (working out to be roughly 45 hours a week when averaged across 52 weeks…i.e. no holiday). So, when the work I do during my “holidays” is included, at around one third of the time – say 4 weeks in a year, which is an underestimation – this takes me up to around 50 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year. If I allowed for a normal holiday allowance of 6 weeks, this would take me to nearly 56 hours a week! All these calculations mean I am earning less than £7.50 an hour in a job that required post graduate qualifications and very tough training,; far below that of a 37 hour office job in computer programming. To suggest this job is “cushy” or the time we have should be better managed demonstrates an ignorance of how much it takes to ensure EVERY child receives the best education they can get.
    I already sacrifice time with my own children for the sake of other people’s, making a concerted effort to collect them from school early at least twice a week (early being 4pm) and refuse to work at home while they’re up. Fortunately, as children require at least 10 hours of sleep a night (yes, 10, not 8!), it gives me some hours at night to work as well. I see so very little of them at all during term time that I look forward to my holidays to spend time with them!
    In most of the suggestions above I see flaws in their application, not least of all the very clear assumption that school is about childcare more so than education! I don’t know about other parents but I most definitely didn’t have children to be raised by other people and actually want to spend as much time as I can with them! Which also raises the question of teachers who are parents: what happens if we don’t work at the school our children attend? How do we fit our holidays and working day around them? I would love the luxury of having a partner who would pick them up and allow them time to play and explore but it isn’t a reality I can look to.
    With comments about getting working mums back to full time I would love to know where these jobs are going to come from, given the current level of unemployment. Of course, with the “less than useless” TAs you refer to already adding to this figures I can see how you’d want to redeploy them to being cheap child-care assistants. So what happens to the childcare workers we currently have in employment? What do they do when schools offer the services they provide but free of charge?
    I could continue this emotion-fuelled rant and questioning but I am far too tired and have a whole day of lessons to prepare for before I get my children’s school uniforms etc. ready for the early morning start. Perhaps I should consider home-schooling instead?

  25. I am a teacher.
    My school day is 8.5 hours, but I spend a couple of hours each evening on planning and marking, and sometimes on the weekends too. I would love to be able to finish work and just go home, switch off and enjoy my family time.
    I could happily handle shorter holidays, but I would like to be able to take them when I choose and not have to pay through the nose for ‘school holiday prices’. You know, like every other working person, because if you’re going to make it fair, then really make it fair. Oh, and in case you were wondering I do spend quite a lot of those holidays catching up on stuff that I haven’t had time to do during the term because I’m, y’know, teaching! And marking, and planning, and attending meetings, and parents’ evenings, and writing reports….
    I teach Maths. There is a shortage of good maths teachers around in schools, and quite frankly I could probably take my maths degree and earn more elsewhere. Make my job any harder and that’s exactly what I, and others like me, will do.

    There are plenty of people who knock teachers, and all I’ll say is…if we have it so easy, why isn’t everyone a teacher?

    Anyway, must go. It’s 9.50pm and I still have a few more books to mark and a lesson to plan for tomorrow.

  26. BTW, further to my previous comments: NO this is NOT the perfect election promise. No right minded person would vote for it…….so go ahead if you want to LOSE the election. Most people love their children and want to be with them…..the others can shove their kids in a boarding school, that facility already exists.

  27. Pingback: Mandating 10 hour opening times for school buildings* | Rebecca Allen

  28. Oh my Lord! You assume that children want to spend so much time in school! This isn’t the 19th Century, man! Children aren’t dirty faced little chimney sweeps to be sent up a filthy old hole for hours upon hours a day! Some of us actually want to spend time with our children (i actually enjoy leaving work early to pick up my kids. Some of our children actually enjoy time away from schools. In your mind, Paul, which is more valuable to a child’s development and well being – school time or family time?
    Has all of this been costed? As a teacher, how many extra hours will I be expected to work? How much more marking will I have? Will I have enough time to prep my increased timetable? Will members of the public be drafted in to run ‘playschemes’ instead? This is beyond belief!

    Come and live with a teacher for a week and experience the joys of not knowing what is going to happen to your job from one day to the next. Taste the pleasure of rarely talking to your partner because you sit in the back room most nights marking assessments. Enjoy the heady cocktail of rushing your children to bed so that you can get on with more planning and marking every week night – and please don’t be so patronising when you say that this new system will actually give me more time to do my job – this will give me more things to do. I absolutely guarantee that schools will seek to fill that free time with more initiatives. Meetings in all schools generally run along the lines of this: “And we need to do more of this….And more of that…And more of this” and this will surely only increase.

    So in actual fact – what this boils down to is less time with my family, more time working and no extra pay. Sounds great – where do I sign up?

  29. I fully agree with Laura Baker above. Paul Kirby’s proposal is a sure-fire way to lose an election. Speaking to fellow parents at the school gate and checking reactions on social media the responses are almost all negative. Parents don’t want their children to be cramming machines, they don’t want their children working adult hours, 46 weeks a year – they want to be parents and spend time with their children.

    It is clear that Paul Kirby just hasn’t thought his proposal through, or indeed talked to any parents about it.

  30. From the government website… are we really expecting four year old to work for longer than the average working week?

    16 and 17 year olds
    16 and 17 year olds can’t normally work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

    The hours can’t be averaged out for 16 and 17 year olds. There is also no opt-out which means that tcan’t work longer hours even if they want to.

  31. Well, I’m a TA and I’m sick and tired of ring told we don’t add to a child’s progress. We may not, as we are NOT teachers and our role is a supportive one. We help the School with keeping the class and school ticking …. Displays, resources, first- aid, counsellor, house-keeper, being another pair of eyes in a room of 30+ children ! Why do private schools exist if not for children to have smaller classes and more quality time with their qualified teacher.
    A standard day would be best being extended slightly so that core subjects are not rushed but to also bring back the afternoon 15 min break … Such as 8.45am til 3.30pm, a 15 min morning break, 45 mins for lunch, 15 mins afternoon break. Then if you choose – a 1 hour after school club til 4.30 …. Done !!

  32. Ok, so please explain when, in this election winning proposal, teachers are supposed to have time to plan and mark work? If you think we have enough time during our so called diminishing PPA time then I suggest you actually try it for a few weeks! Also, has it ever crossed your mind that for many parents their children are not a burden that they want to push away, most parents I speak to actually want to spend time with their children in the evenings and during the holidays! Thirdly when discussing teachers pay, the government has always maintained that teacher’s pay is calculated by taking into account the holidays so are teachers going to be paid more if the holidays are shortened? Maybe MPs who earn on average almost twice as much as teachers should work more hours a week, as I, as an English teacher work between 45 and 50 hours a week already, and shorten their winter and summer holidays and so they can get their act together and get this country out of the sorry state it has found itself in!

  33. 30% of all youth offending happens between 3 and 6pm each day, in the period between school finishing and parents getting home. Full time school would eliminate this period, the peak period of youth offending.

    Does anyone have a reference for that?

  34. This is utter nonsense, and transparent sucking up to Gove, at no benefit to children or to the future of UK society. A generation detached from its family at such a young age will place a massive mental health burden on the taxpayer, for the sake of what? Free childcare for those who can’t (through no fault of their own), or don’t want to nurture their children as well as possible? The issue of childcare for working parents is a valid one, and it needs tackling, but not like this. Not like this.

  35. So there is a need to “Capture the imagination of women voters, especially those aged 30-45”? Well I would suggest that a large proportion of those 30-45 year-olds have young children, and most of them would never vote for a party which would have children at school for longer than the average working day.
    I love my children, and already feel I have very little time with them during the week.

  36. If this is about making life easier for working families, then sure, use schools to provide low cost, high quality after school care for those who need it. They have the facilities, the buildings all set up. But why make it compulsory? Children need time and space to live their own lives, away from adults and organised activities. Your proposals assume that the only learning that is worth doing comes from teachers, tests, lessons and books. Desperately short sighted and showing a fundamental lack of understanding of the state of the modern child that needs more exploring, not less.

  37. I believe this proposal is seriously flawed. Apart from the educational arguments. There are other more practical issues. We already have huge traffic jams, especially in urban areas, school pupils leaving school at the same time as people leave work will make the traffic jams worse and bring many areas into gridlock.
    Also we now already have the ludicrous policy of parents being fined for taking pupils out of school to go on holiday. This is like living in a POLICE STATE! – Far too much State bullying and nannying and interference in people’s lives. Now the proposal to shorten the summer holiday will make this problem so much worse. The holiday companies will increase the prices of holidays even more during the shortened summer holiday and what about those people who have to take their summer holidays in rotation with other colleague employees and won’t be able to take their holiday during the shortened holiday period.
    Unfortunately this is yet another policy from the Department of Education which has not been properly and thoroughly considered. Yours, Mike Dubock

  38. Oh thank you for not publishing by previous submission, clearly the truth hurts. Steer clear from this proposal as the wrath of loving parents will mean your reputation will be in tatters at the end of it.

  39. Gosh, I’d love it if my teaching position only required 45 hours a week. Obviously, this would require a huge rise in the number of teachers as there is no way I could plan and assess and mentor and attend the meetings and complete all the admin of my present job in that limited time (at least a 50% increase, if my hours average hours are anything to go by – 65% if you just count term time and don’t factor in the holidays) – but it would mean I might actually be able to spend some time with my family every now and then. Wow, just imagine: finishing work at 6pm! Heaven.
    You may know next to nothing about education, but I’m all for that part of your vision.

  40. There is truth in what you say about the stress of cramming too much into too short a day. However, you have based your calculations on the premise that children need 8 hours sleep. Children need more sleep than adults! NHS Direct recommends 10.5 hours sleep for an 8 year old, and 9 hours for a 14 year old.
    I have worked in a school that went for the minimum day of 9- 3pm. The results were poor, not surprisingly. All of the children I have taught over a 25 year period have had access to before and school provision, usually in a smaller setting, which is probably better for them emotionally. I have rarely left school before 6pm, and always spend time in school during the holidays.

  41. I personally believe a little extra time in school for older children would be beneficial, but the concept of all children attending school 9am until 6pm is careless and ill thought out. Young children, particularly those between the age of 4 – 8 are already exhausted by current school hours. The idea of integrating extra curricular activities is well meant but when it becomes compulsory it’s no longer extra and for some children will suck the enjoyment out of their favourite activities. I also think that this would make school life incredibly difficult for children who have social/learning difficulties or perhaps are being bullied, and as a result their learning would decrease. I can’t understand why anybody would propose such a drastic measure which would be incredibly unlikely to benefit the majority. I personally think adding an extra hour to the secondary school timetable and increasing the amount of state funded extra curricular activities would be much more welcomed by the majority, and a much simpler way to test the concept that more time in school would increase national student performance

  42. Pingback: Longer school hours – did anyone think about the #SEN child? | For Special Needs Children

  43. ” We also need to tap into the volunteering spirit in local communities – what is stop us bringing the outside world into the school? For example, why not bring Scouts, Guides and Cadets into the school day? Or local football clubs? Or dance classes?”

    Quite simply because the people who run these clubs and organisations are usually not teachers. I don’t get home until 6pm every day so I would no longer be able to be a cadet instructor if all activities were before 6pm. Keeping kids in school until this time would kill these organisations and clubs. Given that there are 100,000 young people in the MOD sponsored cadet forces alone (not including CCF), this would mean many kids would be forced to leave. The Combined Cadet Force does operate within school hours but would not have the capacity to take on this many cadets. Of course, this is just the cadet forces. There are also over 400,000 scouts.

    Would destroying the oldest youth organisations in the country REALLY be a perfect election promise?

  44. Dear Paul Kirby,
    Your idea would probably be be fine with teachers, just so long as teachers’ pay, TA’s pay and the budgets for school resources and eductation is also doubled.
    Then your proposal would be grand – we maintained sector teachers all mostly already work until 6 most evenings as it it is and arrive before 8, so no skin off our noses if you want to actually pay us for the time we put in, not just the nominal 25 hours a week on our pay slips.
    But do make sure that all private schools also up their year to 45 weeks , not the current 36 on average that private pupils currently enjoy- at least 3 less than the average 39 of a maintained school.
    An parliament had also better sit 45 weeks a year too, don’t you think?

    than their

  45. That is an ambitious proposal. I agree with you that the school year needs to be longer. It is not necessarily a popular idea to drastically reduce summer vacation so I respect your willingness to mandate a 45 week school year without making a public appeal. The length of the school year is a dictated by our leadership. I respectfully disagree with you on the extremely long school day you’re endorsing. As a matter of fact it sounds terrifying!

  46. Dear Paul Kirby,

    Last month, I had a fruitful discussion with the UK Department for Education. And the spokesman of the Department kindly allowed me to post it to my blog.
    I hope it is informative to you.

    Dialogue with the UK Dept. for Education 1

    Dialogue with the UK Dept. for Education 2

    Below is my reply to the Department (Dialogue with theUK Dept. for Education 2).


    I am very glad to have the opportunity to communicate with you.
    One of my purposes for writing the article as well as the book is to raise theawareness of juku in Japan. And thanks to the Schools Improvement Net, shadoweducation in Asian countries has been recognized to some extent. The other dayWelsh government also kindly sent me a thank-you letter for informing of thearticle.
    Let me take this opportunity to add a comment mainly on the OECD report.

    As you mentioned, OECD report in 2012 says that theevidence of the benefits and drawbacks of “juku” is mixed. This neutral remarkprobably sounds very kind to those juku practitioners who know the past historyof criticism and hate speeches against them. And another OECD report gives,despite its overall negative tone, a more favourable comment, saying that “Thejuku are succeeding in ways that the schools are not”. (Education reform inJapan, Economics Department Working Papers No.888 OECD Library P16)
    However, these remarksstill fall short in reflecting the reality that students and parents arefacing. Actually it is taken for granted that shadow education is outperformingschools in Japan. For example, one rare survey by the Japanese government in2005 revealed that 70.1% of the polled parents considered juku instructorsbetter than the school teachers at improving the students’ academic ability,while only 4.3 percent of them thought that the school teachers werebetter.
    (P13 the site is only in Japanese).
    And recently a major Japanese news paper reported thatjuku companies are engaged in teaching job in schools.
    ( only in Japanese again, sorry)

    However, it is not easy for international organizationsto recognize this kind of reality as far as the country’s official educatorsare reluctant to pay attention to the excellence of shadow education and thedeterioration of schools. It seems to me that the above OECD reports aremanifestation of the confusion caused by the lack of information. Balancedobservation of the real situation can change the opinion of the OECD officialsor researchers with regards to what should be reconsidered in order to improvethe academic ability of students and to prevent the perpetuation ofsocio-economic inequality.

    Speaking briefly, juku industry initially emerged tocater to the strong demand for the academic credentials in post-war period, andit still enjoys popularity even in the age of low birth rate owing to itsability on one hand and the poor performance of schools on the other. Thus jukuindustry has acquired competitiveness by adapting to changing marketconditions, and now it is surviving the information age, which should havedirect impact on the learning in general.

    Although I don’t know what is really going on in shadoweducation in other countries and am not familiar with the educational situationin your country, I suppose it is worth sharing the experience of jukuphenomenon if a country sees some of the above conditions.

    Best Regards

    Manabu Watanabe

  47. I am a professional part time working mother with two daughters. one is 2 and the other three. I am greatly concerned by what is being proposed.

    I don’t like being used as excuse as a working mother for these “proposed changes” to be approved! I cherish and look forward to the time I get to spend with my children. These changes would mean they would be in school more than being at home! Not only that they would be exhausted! I struggle with working full day! how would a five year old cope being at school for nine hours!! This just takes away from the importance of family!!

    The Goverment say that they are doing this so more women have the opportunity to work! Have they even considered that the only reason most women are is because the cost of living is so high. Otherwise they would rather be home with there children. Maybe they could look into this issue!! This is all about making statistics look good not about the needs of children and there families!!
    My children will most certainty not be staying at school till six o’clock for there own health and well being!

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