The Department for Education insists that lengthening the school day will be the silver bullet to solving the problem of ‘wrap around childcare’ (for those of you who do not know wrap around childcare is, it is what parents used to do) and raise standards. It seemed so obvious that it is a wonder no one has ever thought about it until now.
But luckily we have a couple of geniuses in the DfE who will set things right. This longer school day in the State sector will close the gap between state and private schools, we are told, by offering ‘character activities’ such a horse riding (no sniggering at the back there).
Never mind that private schools select their pupils on ability, from a much wealthier pool of pupils, and have vastly more resources and space. Let’s just ignore those minor differences for now.
The magic bullet is only magic if you are happy for your child to be ‘minded’ in school with 29 other children and one lonely teacher. And no this is not what happens in the classroom where there are teaching assistants in addition to the teachers, structure, and children have not already completed their lengthy school day.
I am afraid that Ministers do not always understand what they are talking about. The longer school day in the independent sector is not about child minding. On the contrary, many extra-curricula activities require twice the level of supervision/teacher input. Have we really got to the stage where the function of schools is to allow parents to work?
The DfE really do seem to have lost the plot!