Keeping schools open on weekends and for longer hours would benefit children’s education as well as working parents, the shadow schools secretary Michael Gove has said.
The Conservative politician claimed having children in school for longer – especially if they’re from disadvantaged backgrounds – would help them close the “attainment gap”, reports the Telegraph.
Head teachers should be encouraged to hold classes outside the normal school hours, it was said, though Gove insisted such a plan would need to be driven by the schools not the Government. He suggested the move could even benefit working parents struggling to juggle work around the school run.
“My hunch is that families would prefer there to be longer hours, it would be quite popular with working parents,” he said in Manchester at the annual Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference, “My view is parents would love to have schools start earlier in some circumstances and to be going on later in the afternoon, given the working lives of many parents.”
Gove’s ideas have been criticised, with many doubting the benefits. One group suggested the idea of a child attending Saturday school because they were achieving below a certain level would give them a “badge of dishonour”, with the stigma of attending the “thickos’ class”.
Margaret Morrissey, of lobby group Parents Outloud, also criticised Gove’s idea, and said, “I think the suggestion the Government made about one-to-one teaching for these kids would be a more preferable way of improving these children’s performance.
“I am just not sure whether taking away a child at weekends is actually going to make them cleverer in the week. What we should be doing is supporting these children within the school week.”
And the plan didn’t wash with Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, either, who said, “The last thing we need to be doing at the present time is increasing teachers’ working hours. Teachers already work the most unpaid overtime of any public sector profession.
“If we want Saturday schools then we need more teachers doing the extra hours not the same teachers working longer and becoming exhausted.”