school

'Kids should be at school from 9am to 5pm.'

I doubt the 9am-3pm school day is working for anyone – except those parents lucky enough to have a job that finishes around 2:30pm and pays well.

The difficult parental collision is that most schools run on a six-hour day – some throwback idea that assumes one parent is at home.

Most full-time jobs in Australia require staff to be in the office during business hours for around 38 hours a week – and the rest.

A new US report has recommended creating a 9-to-5 approach to schooling, and perhaps it’s a good idea.

A 9am-5pm school day would have certainly suited my working parents. It would suit me as a working parent.

A longer school day would be much better aligned to what’s happening in the lives of most working parents.

What are “normal” working hours?

The Center for American Progress found a typical school day did not reflect “normal working hours”, with most schools closing two hours or more before the end of the typical workday.

“What we saw was that schools sort of reflects this attitude of the 1950s, where there was an assumption that one adult, usually a woman, would be home to come to the school pick them up at 3 o’ clock or deal with it when the schools closed,” Ulrich Boser, co-author of the report, told The Huffington Post.

The study found lower income earners were also hit hard because they struggled to cover the cost of out of hours care and non-school days while trying to make a living.

“We just always assume schools close at 3, and then there’s some kind of jerry-rigged system we try to put on top of it,” Boser said.

Outdated school schedules didn’t work for me as a child and it doesn’t work for me as a mother.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education told Mamamia that NSW public schools have the flexibility to change the start and finish times of the school day.

“Decisions about school starting and finishing times are made by school principals in consultation with the local school community,” said the spokesperson.

Currently NSW public schools adhere to the Board of Studies, Teaching & Educational Standards’ minimum teaching requirements.

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The fix for working parents is Before and After School Care.

“The NSW Government has created a $20 million Before and After School Care Fund to help deliver up to 45,000 additional out of school hours care places,” said the NSW Department of Education spokesperson.

The funding boost was in order to address Sydney’s chronic shortage of out of hours care, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, recently said he was “open to the idea’’ of funding schools to stay open longer hours.

His comments followed a government funding initiative for a proportion of schools in Britain to stay open until 4.30pm to help working parents.

“Our school days are already longer than overseas but I’d be open to working with the states and territories to extend those hours, especially for secondary students, if it will improve outcomes for students,” Senator Birmingham told The Weekend Australian in March.

“Ultimately, school hours are for the states and territories to consider, but every education minister should be implementing policies based on the evidence of what ensures the best possible education for this and the next generations of students, and the effective delivery of what is widely acknowledged to be a full or cluttered curriculum.’’

According to the ABS, 57.1 per cent of parents (that is a husband, wife or partner with children under 15) are employed full-time and 79.6 per cent of parents are employed in either full-time or part-time work.

In an ideal world, it would be workplaces that allow for flexible working arrangements that consider the competing commitments of school hours and business hours.

These wonderful employees would also understand parents can be committed to their jobs and want to show up at the school gates.

Otherwise, it’s a great idea to have a longer day at school for everyone – not just the privileged few that have figured out this impossible time equation with the means of wealth.

Listen to This Glorious Mess – What is bird nest parenting? How do you raise a non-homophobe? Help, my kid is a biter. What did your parents do that today would be considered bad parenting?

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