Longer School Hours – Are You Crazy?!

Paul Kirby, a former Conservative advisor, has proposed a change to education that would see children at school between 9 and 6 every day, 45 weeks a year. He says that it will prepare children better for a life of work. Then today saw Michael Gove getting in on the act with similar suggestions for longer school hours.


Good. Because my two-year old is already showing a massive lack of ambition. He doesn’t work at all – cheeky sod, and even when he starts pre-school in a few weeks, he will only be doing a 5 hour week, which is frankly down right lazy and not the sort of behaviour that will get the economy moving again at all.

I for one cannot wait until he is four years old and finally faces up to the reality of life by attending school for 40 plus hours a week. His life is far too easy, all play doh and napping. He needs to get his head around the miserable monotony of the working week and he needs to do it soon, if you put it off until adulthood you are just wasting years of your life having a nice time. Having a nice time does nothing for the GDP of this country and should therefore be discouraged.

In fact why stop at 40 hour weeks in education for children? Let’s bring back child labour, just think how our manufacturing sector could flourish with all those under the age of minimum wage workers on their staff. It would be a real boom for the economy.

Oh? There are laws that say it isn’t good for children to work that many hours a week? In fact it is illegal you say? Yet being in school for that many hours is a good plan is it?

I may be utterly misguided, but while my children are growing up I would like to perpetuate the myth that life is a wondrous thing, full of spontaneous fun and amazement at the world. I want to protect them from the drudgery of reality for as long as possible. I didn’t realise we wanted them to understand the nine-hour grey days that go hand in hand with adulthood when they were small. My bad.

Actually, if I should be preparing them for the realities of adult life then I am declaring this a house of multiple occupation and sending the three of them individual bills for rent and amenities. They will have to get themselves a black market job up a chimney sharpish in order to cover the costs, but that will surely teach them an important lesson or two. Plus it will give them a lung condition to moan about, and nothing says ‘I am a grown up’ more than complaining about your ailments.

Seriously, if something like this was brought in, I will be considering shifting to home education. It seems to me that it is more about childcare than children’s welfare. For a real solution to childcare we shouldn’t be looking at children operating on work hours, but instead shifting the approach to employment onto a more family friendly footing. Working policies such as flexible hours, part-time working and working from home. It is my experience that if you can help your employee find a work/life balance that works, then in return you will get an incredibly hard-working and loyal member of your team. Your money’s worth and more.

Surely the teachers will not be happy with this proposal either. I know there is an illusion that they work short hours and have long holidays, but the teachers I know are doing 8 hour days in school, plus an additional couple of hours every evening, and more preparation and marking at weekends. Plus I panic when all three of my own children are in the same room at once, how they cope with thirty is completely beyond me. They deserve a round of applause not an accusation of slacking.

My youngest will start school 3 weeks after his fourth birthday, and there is no way he will be ready for that length of day. In fact he will probably be exhausted by the traditional school day. And as for reducing the holidays to a measly five weeks per year, most parents will tell you their kids are tired and tetchy by the end of a long term of incarceration behind the classroom door, and in need of the break from routine the holidays bring.

Leaving aside the other shorter breaks, who doesn’t look back on their summer holidays with fond memories of rainy camping trips, grazed knees and wrestling tournaments with their siblings. I once nailed a plank of wood to my leg during in an ill-advised exploration of a building site. Those were truly the days. I want my kids to have that, preferably minus the threat of tetanus. I want them to discover secret coves, eat literal sand-wiches on the beach and read books under the apple tree in the garden on sunny afternoons.

OK, there is a small chance my view of the summer holidays as a time of picnics and ginger beer may not be real. I don’t even have a garden let alone an apple tree, and my reality is actually bickering kids moaning about being bored, but the freedom of kids to be bored is one I am prepared to fight for. I don’t want my children to be considered merely a cog in the economy of the country. 9-6?! Even my heroine Dolly Parton only works 9-5, and she runs a global empire of country music, big hair and breast themed roller coasters.

Paul Kirby suggests that this is the perfect election promise, and that not only would it win an election for someone brave enough to use it, it will also solve the countries economic woes, capture the imagination of women voters between 30 and 45, and a catalogue of other things. Well, he certainly captures this woman’s imagination, it makes me imagine a world where childhood no longer exists, and that makes me want to weep.


Love Miss Cisco 



  1. February 3, 2014 / 8:35 pm

    Great post as ever. I think it’s fair to say he won’t be capturing any imaginations or winning any votes with that one.

  2. February 3, 2014 / 8:36 pm

    This is ridiculous! Let children be children! When did the world start to get so boring and serious? Bring back the fun I say!

  3. February 3, 2014 / 9:23 pm

    Hear hear young (ish) lady 😉 I cannot fathom exactly who they think will vote for them. It will not be women, mothers anyhow. I cannot consider home education because I panic when my two are in the same room, let alone three, but I will definitely not tolerate or be cajoled into going along with such a preposterous proposition and will undoubtedly leave the country.

  4. February 3, 2014 / 10:35 pm

    Totally agree & won’t be letting mine stay till 6pm, doubt it will get through, let’s hope not for their sakes! Mine will be 4yrs 6 weeks in September & we’ll be doing half days and less days if I see her flagging or not enjoying it.

  5. February 4, 2014 / 8:33 am

    Thought you would be interested to know here where I live in France, primary school from age 3 is from 0820-1630 Mon Tues Thurs Fri.

    It used to be Saturday mornings too but was abolished in about 5 years ago. Now they are bringing in Weds mornings next year and shortening the school day to 1530hrs and the last hours will be manned by volunteers from local associations to do things like English classes and painting etc…

    You can pop your child into the garderie from 0730 to 1900 too for something like Euro1.50 a day…

  6. Jen aka The Mad House
    February 4, 2014 / 9:37 am

    My children are not just future workers, they are children and now is the time to treat them as such. I fear for them and yet again am forced to consider homeschooling

  7. February 4, 2014 / 10:18 am

    Ugh this just makes my skin crawl. WHO in their right mind would be persuaded by this ill thought out ploy to win over female voters?! I haven’t seen or heard of ONE single person in favour of it yet.

    Bean started school just 12 weeks after his 4th birthday, he’s now 5 months into his first school year and he’s still completely wrecked and exhausted – and he goes to bed at 7pm! Those few hours between picking him up and him going to bed are never fun, more so when I have to shoe-horn in the reading book 3-4 times a week and 3 lots of homework for him every week.

    No. Just no.

  8. February 4, 2014 / 10:28 am

    Such a ridiculous concept.Children are children for such a small amount of time that to lessen it any more makes me truly sad.

  9. February 4, 2014 / 10:55 am

    I’d also be interested to know how children with Special Needs fit into this – whilst we fight for the hours for my son’s statement that they say they cannot afford to provide does this mean that he would just fall even further behind.

  10. Annie @WeLove_TheNet
    February 4, 2014 / 11:26 am

    I hate the thought of longer school days – poor Ozzy struggles enough with tiredness as it is. If anything I feel like children could do with starting a year later – not staying there longer!

  11. Charlotte
    February 4, 2014 / 11:46 am

    Of course it is more about childcare than education! Forget what the children actually need to thrive – how can we get parents working longer hours and spend less time with their families! That’s what it boils down to IMO x

  12. February 4, 2014 / 12:04 pm

    I’ve written loads on the subject over several posts on my Blog. I do agree that school days should be longer, two of my children (nearly 8) are in school 8.30-3.50 and one (16) until 4.15. They cope fine, have a full curriculum and are working about a year ahead of their peers in the State sector where the finishing time here is 3.10pm. 3pm is barely afternoon, it’s just after lunch, yet the children STILL have nearly an hour’s lunch play, and KS1 two breaks, one either side. There is a phenomenal amount of time wasted during the day and it finishes far too early. Part of the reason the private sector have longer days is because they pack more in, we have two weeks longer holiday in the summer but that’s it – so the children ARE in school longer. It definitely pays off – and they often choose to stay on until 5pm if they attend clubs – which are not compulsory. 3.30pm is really the very earliest it is reasonable to end, unless you make better use of the hours beforehand – and I’ve worked and helped in State schools so I do know what I’m talking about. 6pm on the other hand is INSANE.
    What concerns me as much is how many babies and toddlers are left at nurseries 8am-6pm, which seems SO wrong, yet society seems ok with this – yet condemns a longer school day which is actually not so very different?!

    • February 4, 2014 / 1:17 pm

      I chose not to leave my children in nurseries for those hours when they were babies/toddlers, and I would choose not to send my 4 year old to school for ten hours. I may feel differently about a much older child- for example after school homework clubs for my teen would have been a godsend when her Maths homework got beyond me- but I think the key thing is choice. I choose to bring my child home at 3.15, or 3.30. Others may choose differently- their lives and their circumstances and their children may need entirely different things. I would being very unhappy if ten hour days were imposed on my youngest, and would seriously consider taking a different educational route, but that doesn’t mean others won’t leap for joy about it. I would prefer to see a system where after school activities remain optional, for the parent and child to choose from together.
      Sonya Cisco recently posted…Rainy Day Fun with the Hue Animation StudioMy Profile

  13. February 4, 2014 / 12:57 pm

    We have one school (academy) in my local area that can changed to the longer school hours and I have to say that if we lived closer to it I would probably send my children there. Why?

    The opportunity to complete homework with supervision that actually has some idea of what is being asked from it.
    The opportunity to attend workshops, sports and other activities that I cannot afford to pay for
    And finally the opportunity that I may have a career, instead of having to work part-time as we cannot afford to pay for extra childcare after school and holidays.

    It may not be something for everyone and I don’t feel that every school should have to change over to the new hours but down to parental choice on where they send their children.
    Boo Roo and Tigger Too recently posted…Micro Scooters aren’t just for kidsMy Profile

    • February 4, 2014 / 1:09 pm

      I quite agree that as an option it may well be something that some people find appealing, it would be the lack of choice that would offend me. I certainly wouldn’t want my very young child being in school for those hours, but I would have appreciated a homework club for my teenager- it is all about appropriateness to the child, which means it has to be a flexible system. Why not have schools offering after school wrap around care with homework clubs and activities that parents can choose to use if they want to, but leave the normal school hours alone, so that the choice is there.
      Sonya Cisco recently posted…Rainy Day Fun with the Hue Animation StudioMy Profile

  14. February 4, 2014 / 1:35 pm

    Some brilliant points here as usual – I do have a few alternative opinions though, so am trying to throw something together over at mine and will link to this too, if that’s okay x
    looking for blue sky recently posted…The Alternative Blog AwardsMy Profile

    • February 4, 2014 / 1:37 pm

      Absolutely, look forward, as always, to reading your post!

  15. February 4, 2014 / 2:05 pm

    I think I’d be home schooling too if the longer hours actually came about. I do think it might have some benefits for secondary age kids, but would have to be optional. I like to have a choice!

    My youngest will start school at just 4 and one week….I might cry. xx
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  16. February 4, 2014 / 3:37 pm

    Great post and I loved the way you presented the first half. I’m with you on the whole thing but one of your comments caught my attention – “Plus I panic when all three of my own children are in the same room at once…” I have a good idea this was a tongue-in-cheek remark, but there ARE parents who genuinely feel this way and it’s those people, who want parenting to be a controlled, micro-managed affair conducted completely on their terms, that Gove is trying to seduce with his promise of taking on the donkey-work so they’re left with just the choice, picture-perfect moments. Grrrrrr….
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  17. February 4, 2014 / 3:40 pm

    He’ll end up with stunted children, academically, physically and emotionally, children need down time to play, relax and spend time at home with their families. This is all part of the governments plan to help parents go back to work regardless what’s best for the children.
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  18. February 4, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    I am soooo with you. I really do not want this for my kids. In fact, I want SHORTER school hours. Not longer. They need time to unwind and relax.
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  19. sarahhillwheeler
    February 4, 2014 / 7:04 pm

    A pathetic attempt at vote-catching, which hopefully will misfire.

    Now Boy is older he stays two nights a week for “prep” and comes home with his homework done and having played tennis, but totally exhausted…so the other two days are early finishes. Younger, he would have been wrecked.

    Two further thoughts. First, where is the best interest of the child in all of this? Secondly, why can’t this Government stop meddling and accept that there is a plurality of views and that there should also be a plurality of choice.
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  20. February 4, 2014 / 7:52 pm

    A great post, and I completely agree.

  21. Globalmouse
    February 4, 2014 / 8:16 pm

    It’s crazy to think of longer school days…mine are so exhausted by the end of the week. I say, more time for play…sort out the ability for people to take holidays at less expensive times not spend more time in school!
    Globalmouse recently posted…Saariselka, Lapland, FinlandMy Profile

  22. February 4, 2014 / 8:30 pm

    I would seriously consider homeschooling, if this plan cam to action. It is absolutely ridiculous to expect the same working hours from children as you do from adults. They’re children for God’s sake. They need to play and be outdoors and have fund with their families and friends and not drilled to be machines…
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  23. February 4, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    You are right when you say it is a solution to the problem of expensive childcare. That is the bottom line. I really think every other explanation is a lot of fluff.
    VaiChin @Rambling Through Parenthood recently posted…J Speaks 04/02/2014My Profile

  24. February 4, 2014 / 9:53 pm

    As much as I hate the thought of children in school longer, god help the teachers who will have to work even more hours to prepare activities. If this were to go ahead, the quality of all lessons would no doubt reduce also.
    Jenni recently posted…Save on Style – Polka DotMy Profile

  25. February 5, 2014 / 7:02 am

    I do think 9-6 is a ridiculously long school day although I do think teens in secondary school should do longer hours than Primary (my 13 year old does 8.30 – 3.00 whereas my 5 year old does 8.40 – 3.30). As a teen I did 8.30 – 4.00 which I think is a better length of day and they could even cut out the homework.
    As for the school holidays I would like to see a shorter summer one but tag the extra holiday on elsewhere as six weeks is just too long and to scrap Inset days – instead add a weeks holiday for training so the parents can have a weeks holiday without paying exorbitant holiday charges
    Kara recently posted…Shopping for Teenage BoysMy Profile

    • February 5, 2014 / 7:36 am

      Yes, I think you are right, for teenagers, a longer day that included homework support would be a good idea- as certainly I found the maths in particular beyond me after a point! I would be more in favour of a system where they did less hours when they were young, and more when they were 13+, as by then they are awake later in the evening anyway, so they would still have free time. For little peeps who are in bed at 7, coming home at 5 or 6 would leave barely time for dinner and a bath!

  26. February 5, 2014 / 10:03 am

    Children are children and I want to spend time with my children rather than seeing them in school every day until 6pm!
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  27. Aly
    February 5, 2014 / 2:11 pm

    My youngest is almost 6 and is asleep by 6pm most days.It’s even incomprehensible for my middle child, who’s 8 to be at school until 6pm.My eldest is 11 and he would miss out on attending theatre school, something he has a great talent and future in pursuing.I do think the Summer holidays are too long but I think that’s the only part of the proposal I agree with 🙁
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  28. Sue
    February 5, 2014 / 4:26 pm

    Gove – like too many other twits who want to make themselves appear important – is a complete idiot. He’s another control freak who was somehow voted into Parliament and now believes himself to be knowledgable. Education has been ruined in the past 20 years – about time the wheel turned again.

  29. February 5, 2014 / 5:15 pm

    A wonderfully articulated read and obviously Mr Gove is a man who much prefers the old school term, children should be seen and not heard well if he has his way it wouldn’t even be that 🙁 x
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  30. February 8, 2014 / 5:08 pm

    Yet another completely loopy suggestion…my daughters frequently fell asleep during a 6-hour day at school in reception and they’d have been completely unbearable if they’d had to stay for another 3 hours! Let kids be kids…you’re a long time grown up!
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  31. February 9, 2014 / 9:45 am

    I think this is the most frightening government we have ever had, and I can’t believe how ill thought and backwards a policy like this is, just shows they don’t care for the psychological implications for children doing this, not to mention truancy increasing. This country is so back wards when it comes the education of our children. Great post. X
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