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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Should schools stay open longer?
Primary schools in England will stay open for 10 hours a day, the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, has announced.

Many schools already have early morning breakfast and homework clubs for children but this will be extended to include childcare for working parents.

You put your questions to Anne Longfield, Chief Exec., 4Children in our interactive forum

It will provide time, before and after the formal school day, in which pupils can take part in supervised activities.

Should schools stay open longer? Would they benefit parents and children? Would they benefit the wider community? Tell us what you think.

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Hopefully the children will be too worn out to cause havoc on the streets when they return home at night
Charlie, Notts
Children might end up getting a better education with longer schooling hours and hopefully the children will be too worn out to cause havoc on the streets when they return home at night.
Charlie, Notts

Many of the comments state that primary schools should accommodate parents work routine when it should be the other way round. Whatever will be next. Maybe Saturday and Sunday opening.
James D , Birmingham, UK

The only reason my wife and I work is to buy a house at a highly inflated price, to pay taxes at a crippling rate, and to try and provide a life for our children. I would rather the government reduced housing costs and taxes so that we do not HAVE to work so long and could be at home more to give our children that good life.
Jeff, Macclesfield, UK

As a Widow with no other means of income, I have no choice but to work. The after school club my son attends has been a Godsend to us. He loves every minute. I have to pay for the club of course, so any help in this area would be most welcome. I think the governments proposed plans are great. Remember, not all parents have the choice of staying at home to look after their children.

I for one think that this is a brilliant idea. I have a six year old and have used nursery care before school and it was easy for me as a parent to drop her off at 8.30am and collect her again at 5.30pm. It would also mean that I would get to take my child to school and not have to reply on a childminder as at present.
Carolyn, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

As a married man with no children I'm getting sick to death of paying for other people's offspring
Adrian Mugridge, Chester, UK
More child centric policies from the Labour government I see. First huge tax credits, 1000 child bonds and now this, which I assume will be funded out of general taxation. As a married man with no children I'm getting sick to death of paying for other people's offspring that no one forced them to have in the first place. If people choose to have children then they have to be prepared to look after them and not expect the state to do it for them.
Adrian Mugridge, Chester, UK

At last the Government has admitted that schools are primarily there for free childcare...
Stuart Gray, France (expat)

Great idea. Why not add on dormitories and make these schools into orphanages too?
Anon, London, England

As a single parent, I would be criticised for staying home, and it would seem criticised for working - you just can't win!!!
Debbie, Cardiff

As a single parent, I would be criticised for staying home, and it would seem criticised for working - you just can't win!
Debbie, Cardiff

If people do not wish to care for their children, employ a nanny
Tony, Essex, UK
Has anybody considered teachers who have children? They work longer hours to look after others' children if so who cares for their children? If people do not wish to care for their children employ a nanny, do not burden overworked teachers.
Tony, Essex, UK

I think all these ministers were sent off to boarding school for weeks on end. Once we have breakfast clubs, school and after school clubs there will be a call for sleepovers and it will just be a modern day boarding school for all. Parents should be less greedy for money and work hours to fit in with their children.
Katy, Hemel Hempstead, UK

This is a bad idea. Parents and kids will be too worn out to have time for each other. Mums and Dads: cut down on your working times as time with your kids is worth more than the luxuries.
Cathy, Zurich

Parents may want to work longer hours but why should they subject their children to the same fate? I think children have a long enough day already.
Sandra, Scotland

Our local school has in fact started to be open shorter hours (as part of a trial), something along the lines of 8.30-2.40. How does this help to keep children off the streets while their parents are at work?
Nick, Derby

State-sponsored childminding to enable the parents to get on with their primary economic activities
Nigel Robson, Slough, England
Call me a cynic if you like, but schooling under Labour has always been geared towards being state-sponsored childminding to enable the parents to get on with their primary economic activities. Education has taken second place to the training up of "good citizens" short on imagination and real training in original thought. On top of the enhanced tax revenue available from the parents, they will also be expected to pay. I am not saying it is a bad idea, just that the motives behind it are never clearly explained.
Nigel Robson, Slough, England

When I was sitting my GCSEs, I started school at 08:00 and finished at 17:00. It was ideal for my parents as they started and finished work around those sort of times too. Basically we had homework sessions and activities laid on for us to help us with struggling topics. It must have worked because the majority of my year have gone on to pursue very good careers.
James, Cardiff, Wales

My two sons attend a school that starts at 8:45am and finishes at 3pm. Not only is this a ridiculously short school day it has also created serious problems for my wife when trying to seek employment - especially bearing in mind the number of school holidays in a year.
Paul, UK

What is the point of having children when all you would be doing is dropping off, picking up, maybe feeding, washing then putting them to bed. When does the interaction occur? Plain selfishness - decide what you want, career or children!!!
Sarah, Lowestoft, Suffolk

Marvellous. Parents never home from work to see their children, now children never home from school to see their parents. I thought that we were meant to be encouraging the "family group" and not doing our best to keep everyone apart.
Alastair, Airdrie, Scotland

This has proved popular with parents
Tryphena Penswick, Preston, England
The school my daughter attends already offers before and after school care - from 7.45am to 5.45pm. However rather than the teachers running the scheme they have employed a childcare firm to run it on their behalf and also to provide holiday clubs. This has proved popular with parents as it is at a lower cost than a privately run club at a local nursery and it is also much more convenient. If the government want schools to be "open all hours" then perhaps this is a better way to do it as teachers already have an enormous workload to contend with.
Tryphena Penswick, Preston, England

Is this not the government that was recently insisting that parents should try and ask for flexible hours so that they can spend more time with their children.....hmm!
Yolanda, Birmingham

I went to an independent primary school in the 70's. We started school at 8am and the school day did not finish until 6.00pm for everyone older than 7 up to 11. It might sound a long day, but this included two hours of games every day, an hour reading period after lunch and a break for tea, plus an hour for homework. It was great!!
Jo, UK

I think it's a good idea, especially if there is a variety of choice on offer for the 'out of hours' bit. But before everyone flies off about how terribly cruel it is to keep kids in school for such long hours, look at the example of France where kids go to school from 8.30 until 4.30 from the age of six. They may get Wednesdays off, but they have to go in on Saturday mornings and it's still a long day that they seem perfectly capable of coping with.
Vita, London, UK

Teachers are not nannies and should not be responsible for pre and post school activities. They normally use post-class time for lesson planning and marking and do not finish at 15.30 like their pupils, so when would this lesson planning be achieved?
Jessica Harris, England

I am interested to see the UK's "open all hours" proposal for schools to cover 8am-6pm. This is what schools in Belgium already do (in fact from 7am-6pm). Parents pay nothing before school, or until 4.30pm. After 4.30pm the fee is approx one pound per child per day. Works well although the children are "supervised" rather than given constructive activities.
Sue Bennington, Belgium

School facilities should always be available
John M, Lyne Meads, UK
It's time schools adapted to the needs of society rather than everyone else juggling their lives to fit in with school times. Not only should schools be open all day but they should also be open at week-ends and holiday times. The changes need not impose extra responsibilities on teachers as the extra opening times could be covered by other, new, staff. Childcare needs don't stop when schools go on holiday and also, for many people, at the week-end. Working hours and holidays these days are variable and don't follow a consistent universal pattern. It's for that reason that school facilities should always be available.
John M, Lyne Meads, UK

As a mother of 3, I would welcome this and would happily pay for the 'out of hours' part (I employ a nanny at present). So long as the non-school hours were fun or helpful: perhaps teach the children some of the life skills which are sadly lacking now (sewing, cooking, woodwork etc). But would extended hours take jobs away from child-minders and nannies?
Tracey Clayton, Norwich, England

The biggest gap in childcare provision is the early secondary school years as people who have used childminders to date find there is little support available. Until they are both at least 12 years old and can be judged capable of being a "latch key kid" which many of us were before, then the provision of a service by schools to care for this group would be most welcome. If they focused on providing a quiet area for kids to do homework then that would be even better as they would have free time to enjoy with the working parents when they arrived home.
Kevin Yates, Lymm, UK

Why should schools have to stay open longer to fulfil the role of the parent?
James Holden, London
Absolutely not! Why should schools have to stay open longer to fulfil the role of the parent? After-school activities should be laid on to encourage children to develop certain aspects of their talent, not for parents to abdicate the role they should play in their children's lives.
James Holden, London

Brilliant solution for working parents. At least, they would have the peace of mind, knowing where their children are, what they are doing and having responsible people to look after them. This solution is so much better than leaving the children to wander around or even do nothing at home.
Christina Spybey, London, UK

When I was a lad in the 70's and 80's school was 9am to 4pm. Now it's 3pm. How on earth are parents supposed to get out of work and pick up their kids? Thus expensive child care after school is the only option for lots of parents. Now we need both parents to work to pay for the sky high mortgages, it's made matters more crucial that we keep schools open longer.
Jake Purches, Worthing, UK

Has anyone thought about the increased amount of rush-hour traffic caused by moving the "school run" to 6pm?
Andrew, Swansea

Great idea but it's been done before and lack of funding fizzled it out. More pressure on teachers from their school will be devastating to the dwindling profession. Schools need more money - as usual political avoidance of fundamental issues. The public are not stupid and unless funding and honesty is put first forget it.
Nicki, Leicester

10 hours a day in school for children... 10 hours a day in work for parents. What a great society Britain is becoming.
Jon, Manchester

'Open all hours' plan for schools
08 Sep 04  |  Education

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