It beggars belief, but a Committee tasked with looking at the performance of white working class children as they’re being called, have recommended in a recent report that underperforming children in this social demographic should spend 10 hours a day at school.
The thinking behind this stems from the alleged desire to allow these children to do their homework at school away from what are being termed ‘distractions’, at home. The report cites those distractions as other people in the home who may be eating, or watching television. The last time we checked, this happened in every home across the country during homework time, to varying degrees. The Chairman of the Select Committee, Graham Stuart MP, has already explained that no one has any idea why these children are under-achieving. Stuart tells us, “We don’t know how much of the underperformance is due to poor attitudes to school, a lack of work ethic or weak parenting.” How we get from an admission of ignorance on the issue to affirmative action in terms of ten hour school days is beyond anything rational.
And now Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief schools inspector, is urging head teachers to fine parents who ‘fail to support their [children’s] education’. One can only imagine what kind of mayhem that might cause. Needless to say, the Teaching sector were up in arms about this measure, and quite rightly so.
The 10 hour school day is not a new phenomenon.
Michael Gove has been pushing for 10 hour school days since the beginning of the year. The stupidity of this proposal, whatever corner it emanates from, and which in this latest news targets white working class boys specifically, has been well documented.
Some children as young as four are already being left in schools for ten hours a day, and teachers are concerned that this is affecting children’s well-being and eroding family life. Whilst this is in no way the fault of parents who are struggling to make ends meet in a weak economy thanks to our hapless politicians, this cannot be good for children, at all. Indeed, some quarters even argue that our children should not be going to school until the age of six, something we happen to agree with, but are only too aware of the economic complications this proposal poses.
And that, it seems to us, is really what this debate it about. Not the welfare of these white, working class boys who are not focusing at school, and who clearly need the kind of support 10 hour school days and fines won’t provide, but about our government’s insatiable appetite to get all hands on deck and bring our economy back to life. Perhaps the real reason these children are struggling, is that their parents are having to work long hours at thankless jobs just to keep the family going. Perhaps these families are just so exhausted when they return home that they just don’t have the energy to do whatever it takes to focus on their children’s homework. And maybe, just maybe, this is not anyone’s fault except for our greedy, senseless, out of touch government, still lining its coffers whilst a nation fights to keep its head above water.
As one teacher put it, “These children [doing 10 hour school days] walk around like ghosts, do not talk to anyone, fall asleep, do not progress as quickly as their peers. Their parents are also ‘too busy’ to support them in an adequate way at home.”
The government then, want to increase the school day in order to address these ills. And yet, we have to ask:at what price? It seems to us at least, that our children are always relegated to the status of second class citizen, when in reality, they are the nation’s most precious investments.