Monday 8 March 2021

Williamson's longer school opening plans must be firmly opposed

THIS CALLOUS GOVERNMENT has made clear that its “thank you” to essential workers will be a further attack on our pay and conditions. 

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018
For NHS staff, their ‘reward’ has been a derisory 1% pay award. For school staff, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is suggesting schools need to operate with longer days and shorter holidays. 

This proposal is nothing to do with helping children. The Tories’ continued school cuts, alongside their reckless rush to full school opening, show that they regard schools primarily as a childcare service, not an educational one. 

Extending hours will not improve education

Extending hours will not improve education. Children, even more than adults, get tired. Concentration will not be maintained. 

As it is, pupils in England already spend longer in school than the global average. They also get shorter summer holidays too

OECD (2014): How much time do students spend in the classroom?
Compare England with Finland, consistently regarded as one of the highest achieving education systems:

Hours of compulsory general education over 9 years (equivalent to Key Stages 1-3):

Finland: 6327 hours                       

England: 7904 hours

Length of school year:

Finland: 187 days                            

England:  190 days

Length of summer holidays:

Finland: 10-11 weeks                    

England: 6 weeks

Instead of even more time enduring the “exam factory” conditions imposed on our schools by League Tables and Ofsted, school students after the pandemic need a ‘recovery curriculum’ that prioritises their well-being.

For their social development, children need leisure time and parents need time with their children. That means better pay and shorter hours, not the other way around. Youth and play services should be funded to provide additional support - but these have been slashed by Local Authority cuts.

School staff workload is already driving them out

The Government knows that over 20% of new teachers already leave the profession within their first two years of teaching. That rises to 33% within the first five years. If the Government succeed in imposing even greater working hours, staff turnover will increase even further, damaging education.

Government figures also show that teachers are already working over 50 hours a week. Support staff are also pressurised into unpaid overtime too. Instead of conditions being made worse, they need to be improved. That’s why one of the ten key points in my DGS campaign is for a National Contract for all school staff that sets a genuine limit on overall working hours, not just teachers’ ‘directed time’.

Organise national action to defend staff and education

Under current contracts, school employers could not enforce a longer working day or year. Any move by Ministers to try and impose changed contracts must be firmly rejected.

Such an attack could not be fought school-by-school. Unions need to boldly respond with a clear warning that, if the Government tries to enforce worse conditions, we will organise national action to defend staff and education.

I've also turned this post into a short campaign video. Please share with your colleagues via this YouTube link:

1 comment:

Golden Graduate said...

Shared on Stoke-on-Trent district page. Staff don't want this...pretty sure pupils don't either