Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced a £680m plan that could see English schools stay open from 8am to 6pm.
Under the scheme, designed to help working parents, volunteers or private companies will supervise the extra-curricular activities.
Teaching unions have warned the money will not cover the number of schools involved.
Do you think school hours should be extended? Will you use it for your children?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
This is yet another patch-it scheme to try to solve the problems caused by the break-up of the the family unit. With most children being born to single parents and society generally seeing motherhood as a second-rate option to pursuing a career. Children need mothers and fathers. Fancy houses, fancy cars and fancy holidays are no substitute for their mothers and fathers time.
Paul Becconsall, Peterborough
Overlooking the idea of teachers working for such hours. How is it intended to motivate pupils to attend school for such a long time? I encounter plenty of pupils who struggle to focus till lunch time let alone the afternoon!
Andrew, Hitchin, UK
I frequently started secondary school at around 8am and went home at 5pm, and this was not because my parents wanted me to be there until they finished work but because I wanted to be there, either playing sports or doing homework in the quiet environment of the library. I've not turned into an axe-wielding serial killer because my parents didn't drop me off and pick me up on the sound of the bell. In fact I achieved good exam grades and have done quite well in life.
Jacqueline, Chester-le-Street, County Durham
I've worked for 30+ years in schools which offer 8 - 6 education, and some which offer 24hr, 7 day a week service - they've been called Prep schools or Senior Independent Schools ("Public Schools"). I've done the hours willingly, as part of my job for the standard teachers salary, but have had subsidised accommodation and slightly longer holidays in return for it.
I seem to be the only one feeling sorry for those inevitable few who will be left 8-6 every day of the week. Shouldn't parents be aiming to spend more time with their children rather than keeping them in school for unnecessary hours? It seems unfair and expensive for the state.
Daisy Haynes, Norwich, Norfolk
To the parents bleating on about "but what happens during the school holidays?" - what happens is that you the parents take responsibility for your own children! Not the school, not the state, not taxpayers, but (shock horror) you! But hey - if enough of you complain maybe you can persuade the government to create tax-payer supported residential summer camps where you can dump your kids for weeks on end, making sure to pop in on them every now and then just to remind them who you are.
S Hill, London
Unless the funding suggested is multiplied by a significant amount - and made permanent - schools will not be able to afford even the most basic provision - don't think of 'rock climbing' or 'learning a musical instrument', rather think of 'sitting in a room watching TV'! Only if someone - the state or parents - puts much more into this will it work. I'm not holding my breath!
Giles Falconer, Sleaford, UK
It's quite simple, since the 60s we now have more tax, higher house prices, increased cost of living - resulting in the need for women to work not from choice but necessity. As women are now working we need child-minders or pre- and after-school activities - these provisions cost money and taxes rise still further so people have to work even longer. This is the government's problem in the first place and they should concentrate on reducing the cost of living not acting to increase it!
Piers Catton, Blandford Forum, UK
The whole idea is badly thought through as it does not address what happens during school holidays. Secondly children need their parents and the whole erosion of family values is precisely because parents are not taking responsibility for the upbringing of their children. Perhaps this is a "perk" for politicians and teachers who have long summer breaks?
As someone who only left school a few years ago, I'd dread the thought of being cooped up at school from 8 until 6. Both my parents worked but I just went home after school and did my homework, something which I think Ruth Kelly has left out. It's all very well providing arts and sports activities, but this won't help students pass their exams and, given that most GCSE students are given two hours of compulsory homework a night, when exactly would it be completed?
Amy, Reading, UK
More and more parents are having to work weekends and bank holidays - does this mean that children will soon be spending their whole childhood at school? I think the government should ensure that everyone has decent wages and better working hours to suit family life.
Lesley, Derby, England
Good idea, as long as the parents using the 'babysitting' service pay for it. How many teachers have all these extra hours to look after kids after school as well as during lessons. Schools must charge for child-minding to pay for facilities for these after hours activities.
Arthur, Derby UK
This is a complicated subject: more and more parents work, we have congestion on the roads, lack of childcare provision, employers frown on flexible working to help parents and the burden generally falls on mothers, who are not given the respect or help they deserve. Schools have always had after-school clubs but that was out of the goodwill of teachers but with so much litigation and red-tape this is dwindling. And has anyone asked kids what they want?
In theory this is a great idea. In practice not all schools have the space to provide an all encompassing after-school clubs due to other extra curricular activities. Then there is the question of financing on a long term basis, and insurance. Plus there is an Ofsted issue, will a bad Ofsted report on the after-school club reflect on the school as a whole, undoing the work of the teachers?
A Legge, Leeds, UK
How about giving some of this money to hard-working mothers who stay at home to take care of their own children. It is implicit in these policies that all women should want to delegate the responsibility of bringing up their children to someone else. I imagine in reality most of these after-school clubs will see children sitting in front of videos. It's time the government showed stay-at-home mothers the respect they deserve.
Barbara, Ilkley, W Yorkshire
If we cannot find the staff to man the current working hours how do we expect to find the extra staff to man this workload?
Childminders already provide this service. We are continually told by both Ofsted and the government that we are doing an excellent job. So why try to put us out of business?
I myself am a year 10 student studying my GCSEs. I think that this scheme may have benefits in which it could help to keep teenagers off of the streets in the evenings but when it comes to it, what child is going to want to stay at school? It doesn't matter if they're being supervised by a teacher or by a volunteer, at the end of the day it's still school and if children don't want to be there within normal hours, why are they going to want to stay there for extra hours when they could be at home having fun, or out with their friends?
As a parent and also Chair of Governors at a local primary school I am concerned about these proposals. Children require quality time with there parents not just a quick breakfast and an hour in front of the telly before bed. Wasn't it Alan Milburn who resigned from the government because he wanted to spend more time with his family. What ever happened to work/life balance? A good home experience is invaluable to every child.
Ten hours at school, ten hours in bed. Outrageous! That still leaves four hours that all those poor parents will have to look after their kids. What do we think they are, mums and dads or something?
Pete Hoyle, Edinburgh
What about parents who work nights, are the schools going to stay open for them?
Well planned, so now I won't be able to park near my home as the road will be full of parents waiting for their children, as there is absolutely no chance they will walk home now as it will be dark in the winter by the time school finishes. I expect the number of children injured on the roads to increase as the going home time will conflict with people trying to get home themselves.
Tim, Reading , UK
Swindon LEA has just agreed to stop school dinners due to the cost of producing them. With children at school from 8am until 6pm, I would like to hear the views of a medical expert as to the risk to the child's health of going up to 6/7 hours without a meal.
Martin Jeffs, Oxford
Great solution for the short-term but in the long-term how about we change our work-life culture in this country so that more parents have more time to spend with their children?
Dean Gargano, London
Parents put materialistic ideals before their own children and are more interested in the extra holiday or the second car. Get a part-time job by all means, but be there for your children when they go to school and for when they come home.
Gerry Noble, Salisbury, UK
To all those moaning about working parents - would you prefer us all to stay at home on benefits? And as for those smug men who 'made a choice for my wife to stay at home' - great for you but not feasible for everyone. 50% of marriages break up and those 'stay at home' mothers are often left on benefits. What is wrong with trying to help working parents? As long as the kids are happy and secure that is all that matters. And actually, this 'new' Labour idea has been around for several years - they have only just got around to doing anything about it.
Liz, Portsmouth, UK
As someone who has just finished their PGCE (Secondary), I can honestly say that the idea of being at school and in a teacher role for that amount of time is absolutely horrific. The workload is demanding enough as it is, without adding a couple of extra hours on to every working day!
Kate, Manchester, UK
I think it's a fab idea! I am a single parent who works full time to support my daughter as I want to be able to provide for her myself rather than live from benefits. I am in a no-win situation. If I don't work and live from benefits then I am a sponging good-for-nothing person who shouldn't have had children to start with. If I work full time, therefore need child care, then I don't really care for my child! And surely the parents who would take advantage of this new system will be working, therefore paying taxes themselves, therefore contributing?
Kerry, Windsor, Berks
I resent the implication that working parents are "just in it for the money". Some people want a function in life outside of the home, an opportunity to give something back (economically) to the country. Men have enjoyed this privilege as well as the right to be a parent for decades. It is sheer folly to deny the same right to either parent.
Angela, Singapore (ex-UK)
This is ridiculous - where has parental responsibility gone? Parents, not the state, should provide care for the kids. If they want after school care parents should meet the cost. I'm not someone who's single complaining about tax - I'm a parent of two under school age children who's wife looks after the kids rather than working. It is a struggle financially but I'm not expecting the government to bail me out. If you have kids you care for them, if you don't why bother?
Andy Rouse, St Annes, Lancashire, England
A commendable idea - keeping children from empty houses and from roaming the streets. If the government can also buy back all of those sports grounds that have been sold off and find a way to staff the extra hours safely and responsibly, this will benefit all of British society. Sports and activities clubs are what's needed.
Len Pannett, Guildford
The money being spent on this could be redirected to help mothers who want to stay at home instead of having to work.
Since my daughter has started full time education, the school provide a club from 8.00am to 6.00pm. With out that I would pay more on child care. It a great way for her to continue playing with her friends, and I can go to work full time.
Carol Woodall, UK
It's a great idea. My partner and I work "normal" office hours and without such schemes in place, our son would be in the house alone. Personally, I'd prefer it if he wasn't, as he has a tendency to chew curtains when unsupervised.
Roy Gilberts, Padiham, Lancashire
Once again it is childless people who are subsidising other people's children. And before parents start moaning about having to work to support their family, the answer is simple: don't have things you can't afford. I'd like a bigger house, a newer car, more holidays, but I can't afford them. But parents seem to think it's their right to have children even if they cannot afford the cost of supporting them.
Adrian Mugridge, Chester, UK
Why so much bile from the childless? My family mean everything to me but am I supposed to work a 30 hour week so that my children aren't a tax burden for you? Wake up, this life isn't just about 'me'. My children already attend after school clubs which I pay for, but I'd gladly pay an extra penny on income tax if that means other children are happier healthier and safer.
Jon Cobb, Farnborough England
Yes, yes, yes. Since we "cannot" afford the Youth Clubs, it has taken 20 odd years to wake people up to the idea that since children need to burn up so much energy and focus their attention that they need longer study/ PE/ recreational study days.
Chris Kisch, Milton Keynes, UK
Sounds like a good idea as it would enable both parents to work, and means kids will be doing something more useful than hanging around in the street.
Jess, Cardiff, Wales
All this talk about 'kids hanging around bus stops for hours' makes me laugh. Most of them are ferried back and forth by their mothers which causes all the peak time traffic. When the schools are off the roads are much clearer.
John, London, UK
Has the government ever thought that perhaps it's both parents having to work that is the cause of the current social problems the UK is facing? Perhaps we should be tackling this issue another way. And to all those complaining about taxes paying for child care: it'll be those kids paying taxes for your pensions and healthcare when you reach your childless old age.
Jason Tew, Manchester, England
Instead of wasting money on this sort of thing, why not use it to give tax breaks to families so that they can actually afford for one parent to stay at home to raise the children? Oh, and a point that some of your correspondents need to take on board: most parents are taxpayers and have been for many years before starting a family, and pay far more into the system than they ever get out of it.
Paul, Worthing, UK
I know this debate will attract comment from a number of narrow minded singletons wondering why parents 'choose' to go to work rather than spend time with their children. The fact is that many families (including mine) need two full time incomes to manage. It breaks my heart every single day to leave my children at nursery at 8.00am knowing I won't see them until 5.45pm. But it's the only option for me. This plan is realistic for modern parents and I'm all for it.
A point not raised on this discussion is the fact that many parents have had to move away from their families to find work. I don't have close family to rely upon, so yes I am in agreement with schools providing longer hours. As long as the children are well supervised and not stuck in front of a television for hours after school this should work really well.
Fiona Gell, Paisley, Scotland
What about the children who are bullied ? This could be a nightmare for them.
Peter Evans, Bristol United Kingdom
The Nanny State strikes again. First it's subsidised childcare and now keeping schools open so that parents can work longer hours. Why can't parents look after their own children and run their lives accordingly which past generations have had to do? If you can't afford to look after your own children you shouldn't have them.
Keith, Leicester, UK
If it keeps the 'Blair youth' off the streets for a couple of hours it must be a good thing. Maybe the crime targets will be met too as a result. As a teacher though, I doubt the merits of teaching exhausted kids.
Stuart Bagshaw, Aylesbury
I have been living in Belgium where this sort of system is in place already, and it works very well. Most children stay behind for homework clubs or just general play at least once or twice a week. The schools run child care facilities before and after school. Although it makes a long day for some children, it is a safe and stable environment. This is not a cop out of parenting it is just a more civilised reaction to the reality of being a working parent. The government realises that if parents are going to work then children need to have care and this needs to be affordable.
Nicola Powell, Belgium (usually UK)
My wife and I have six children now aged 29 down to 13. We have watched in dismay as over the years successive politicians have implemented policies that have progressively enabled parents to foist the burden and responsibility for caring for their children on to someone - anyone - other than themselves. Parents should fit their lives around their children not the other way round.
Patrick, Honiton, UK
Schools, their playing fields and other amenities are public property. Whilst this proposal goes in the right direction it does not go far enough. More use should be made of these facilities and over a longer period every day. Adults can gain from the use of gym's and track/field facilities as well as computer training. There's lot's more that can be done for the good of the community!
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England
My sister has been working in after school clubs set up by private companies for a couple of years and at various schools. The ones she has worked at are not run purely to make profit but rather run with the children's' interests at heart. They provide a safe environment for kids to do art work and play sports and actually develop skills that they don't have time for at school. I think this idea should definitely be encouraged in all schools.
As a non parent with a lot of experience working with children I think it is the children who will suffer! We have all seen these TV programmes about unruly kids and it always boils down to lack of quality time spent between children and their parents. With this scheme that time would be further reduced! Parents will say yes but we have to make ends meet but it is always possible somehow and look at the priority here-your children growing up loved!
My worry is for small children who will have to spend 10 hours a day, five days a week in the school environment. Not every child is happy at school, for some it is a lonely place. What 'choice' will they have?
Tricia, Sunbury on Thames
I think this has to be the worst idea anyone has come up with recently - this effectively means that the children will be doing a longer day than most of their parents. In addition to this they will eat all meals at school. Has anyone thought about the state of our current school dinners and the implications on children's health that eating all meals at school would cause? In addition to this what about schools that offer adult education courses that often start at around 1800hrs? What will happen to these?
There are many young children in the UK who care for ill parents and younger siblings with little or no support from the government and often to the detriment of their education. Yet children of healthy working parents have been allocated billions to keep them safe, busy and entertained until mum or dad can pick them up from school. All children need to be protected and nurtured but shouldn't we be assisting our most vulnerable children first?
What has happened to our tolerance of flexible arrangements for employees? Everyone's work-life balance should be respected, staff in my department are encouraged to discuss child-friendly hours to allow them to care for their kids properly and still maintain a career. It can be done - coming in half an hour later after dropping kids off at school is no issue. This idea of our taxes being used to fund extended child care is ridiculous - yet another example of how this government is wasting everybody's hard earned money.
Those objecting to "their taxes being wasted" seem to forget that this scheme is of most use to working parents (ie those who also pay tax). If all these working parents gave up full time employment and claimed benefits while looking after their children the tax bill would be an awful lot higher. I'm shocked how many selfish people are commenting here - this is a good scheme which solves far more problems than it creates.
For a lot of children, attending a breakfast club will ensure they actually have a decent breakfast, and if the range of food available is selected by someone with an eye to health rather than profits, these kids will be able to concentrate better, behave better and generally get more out of the education system. Ask a teacher - lack of good food combined with additive-laden junk food is a major contributor to bad behaviour and poor performance. Anything which helps to alleviate this situation has got to be a good thing - can we get Saint Jamie involved?
Peter, London, UK
My partner's half sister aged 4.5 comes home tired after a day at school. I dread to think about the state of her if she had to be at school another 2.5-3 hours per day. Most young pupils will see their work deteriorate because of this. Perhaps it should be introduced to juniors and upwards.
As long as kids have time to do their homework as well otherwise their days will be longer than their parents. Good idea in principle though, I encourage the increase in sport for example.
How long will it be before schools become boarding schools? This is just a short step to having your kids stay in school all week and then have them home at the weekend. Is this really the best thing for kids?
Yet another extraordinary policy encouraging parents to offload parental responsibility to the state. Is it any wonder that behaviour and discipline deteriorate when children are treated as little more than an impediment to the pursuit of money?
David, Godalming, UK
Surely it would be a better idea to allow at least one parent the flexibility to not have to work so long, if at all. The encouragement seems to be to have those physically capable of work to do so whether they want to or not, and have people spend as little time as possible with the people they love. My wife is a stay at home mother through choice, and we are much worse off now since the introduction of the Tax Credits and the loss of the child and married tax allowances. This seems to be just the next step in breaking apart the family unit.
This is an excellent idea. At the moment my wife and I find it very difficult to pay the cost of childcare plus our mortgage. With this new announcement it will help us save towards our child's university fees rather than spend it on childcare.
It sounds great in theory - no more latchkey kids on the streets creating bedlam and developing anti-social tendencies - but will it work in economic terms? Boarding schools are expensive because of boarding costs and care - day schools are healthier and less oppressive and damaging but will have to pass the costs on to parents/taxpayers. Why should schools have to compensate for working parents not considering better arrangements e.g. childminders or relatives helping out?
Katherine Wagtson, Stockport, UK
This is an excellent initiative. It will help with promoting a positive work life balance for parents/carers as well as allowing down time for children to play and socialise. My family already benefit from just such a system and I know that other families will also benefit when it is introduced to their children's school.
Graham Nickson, Hertford, UK
I'm 20 years old and live with my father, and younger brother and sister. With my dad being a single father, I help out a lot. With schools opening earlier and closing later, this will every parents schedule up massively. Why this hasn't been proposed earlier I will never know! Excellent idea!
Michael Russell, Widnes, Cheshire
I think these are a good idea, but I think that parents should contribute to the cost rather than come from taxpayers' money, after all it's the parents choice to have the children and work full-time.
Jo, Manchester, UK
It really does speak volumes about our society when this is considered necessary. Schools are educational establishments, not babysitting services. The government should be making it easier for a parent to stay at home and look after the kids. This way services like this won't be needed.
Are these hours going to be compulsory or will kids be allowed a choice, either way I foresee trouble and who will man the extra hours. Just another gimmick from a government unable/unwilling to tackle the real problems in education
Adrian Cannon, Edinburgh, Scotland
Those bleating about the burden of this scheme are exemplifying why Britain has such a bad record with children. If they hang around doing nothing, they're louts. If they stay in school studying, they're burning out. If they stay behind to do sports, drama, music or merely "hang out", they're sponging. We no longer live in a society where parents have the luxury of choosing to not work. Many need the income to support overstretched schools, expensive housing and living costs.
Lenny P, Guildford
Any parent who doesn't want to look after or spend time with their children, should seriously consider whether they should be having children at all. I appreciate it's hard work, but it's also very rewarding. Yes, you have to make sacrifices but surely you're aware of this before you have them? You cannot seriously expect a childless person who gets no reward from a child to foot all their bills.
I think it is a good idea. Most people are jumping to the conclusion that children will be left for the whole of the time. I don't think that is the case. Those who moan about the nanny state soon blame the government when it suits them (and take the benefits too)
Fantastic idea! But why only England? We have to shell out over £300 a months for pre-and post- school care.
Mark, Glasgow, UK
Terrific, so as well as helping first time buyers to buy a house, as a taxpayer, I am now also going to have to pay for other people's child care as well!
Paul S, Essex
To all the people who complain about paying for extended school hours: Think about how much more you will pay if all families had to be on benefits until their children turned 16. By supporting the "working parent", you are in fact ensuring more parents contribute and less are tax parasites.
In theory it is a good idea but I would guess that the main people expected to do this would be teachers, who already work 8-6 planning marking etc as well as teaching and then still more work at home. They can't work 24-7 and have families too. Would they get paid any extra for their time?
I am one of the many childless singletons and I think this is a great idea. Like it or not, most families nowadays have both parents working. I would rather see my taxes pay for good, consistent child-minding in this manner than pay for the costs of taking the tearaways to court and subsequently keeping them in a custodial environment because they had to much time to mess around without any supervision. There was once a time when all schools had after-school clubs so why is everyone up in arms about this proposition now?
Kiltie, Staffs, UK
8am to 6pm 5 days a week is a 50 hour week. Not many adults would be keen on spending that much time at work so why inflict it on our children? Isn't there an EU directive limiting everyone to a maximum of 48 hours a week or doesn't it apply to children and the staff that look after them?
I am a parent and would like to spend more time with my child. Rather that trying to change the culture and increase standard of living by reducing taxes so parents do not have to work long hours the government has gone the other way to make it socially acceptable to work mad hours so someone else brings up my child.
I'm sure this proposal will take the pressure off many particularly single parents. However, I do worry about the increasing amount of activity that young children are encouraged to do for more and more hours. Is it perhaps time that the 'Working Time Directive' was broadened to include children?
Ed Hudson, London
Well, we contract out most services, why not child care. Shame the weekends will be ruined by having the children around. Still, that's what being a parent is all about. Not being there! No wonder the family unit is struggling. And yes I do have children and my wife does not work, not because we are financially sound, but because our children are more important.
Alan, Tring, UK
The sum of £680 million divided by the number of schools in Britain is about £30,000 per school, it ain't going to go far is it? Education already costs this country a huge amount of money, this is a drop in the ocean compared with that.
Chris, Telford UK
Who benefits most from this scheme? Employers, who can now expect their employees to work even longer hours without the excuse of having to go home and look after their children. As usual, the business community is the only one that really matters.
Dave, London, UK
I hope that today's parents are not against the idea of being put in a nursing home later in life. After all they are teaching their kids to use others to look after their relatives if the responsibility conflicts with other areas of their life. Sweet Dreams!
Some families will have no option but to take advantage of it for practical reasons. It's more ethical than sending children to "Boarding Schools" which is an unnatural environment for the child and wealthy busy parents can forget about them. I know which is better!
I Noble, Stafford, UK
Errm...so who is going to look after the children of the after school club employees, as they will be at work earlier, finish later and have to pick their own children up?
Jojo, South London
To me it sounds like a good idea. Extra-curricular activities can only be a good thing, first of all, if they do sports they will be kept healthy and fit, and if they do a more craft/creative activity they will keep their minds active. It would stop kids just going home and sitting in front of the television/computer, thus tackling obesity so its a win-win situation. It's about time we think about the benefits of such a scheme rather then obsessing on that great British soap-box which is tax payers money and where its spent. There are so many activities which can be used in this time, why wouldn't we want such a scheme to help with our children's learning and future?
If these kids are not getting home until later, and the extra hours are spent on "extra-curricular activities" rather than regular school work, when are they supposed to fit in the 2-3 hours of homework that GCSE students are supposed to get?
Taz, Maidenhead, Berkshire
As a teacher I know that many schools already offer such services. The problem is not keeping the schools open, it is the fact that many kids are totally apathetic when it comes to anything to do with school. Why would they stay in school for any longer than they have to?
Neal, Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Great, let's shift the school run to coincide with the rush hour - that'll help ease congestion.
Phil, Watford, UK
Still won't help a family with child care when it comes to half-term, end of term or the summer holidays. Sounds like another half-baked idea and a waste of money.
Once again the private sector and voluntary sectors are being used to prop up our under-funded education system (at a tidy profit to them no doubt). This seems to be subtly inculcating the long hours culture into our kids at an early age rather than addressing why parents aren't at home for them. Most parents have to work long hours as tax credits won't fund a part time parent. Pay rates and workplace rights all play a role in this. The government should look more at changing employment laws rather than keeping kids away from home for most of the day.
My son's school already has before and after school provision covering 7.45am to 6pm. This enables parents who want to work to be able to work 'normal' 9-5 hours. The cost is not prohibitive at £3 for mornings and £6 for evenings and is more than covered by the income earned in that time. As a result he does more art, sport and music than most other primary kids thanks to the great support of the (privately run, not state funded) club staff. Why not use the buildings etc for more than 6hrs a day? These are sunk costs and surely using an otherwise empty building will not 'use taxpayers money' - my bet would be that Mr Brown would gather far more in tax from those parents now able to go back to work than such schemes as ours could ever cost.
Catherine, Stockport, UK
As a school caretaker I have to be selfish and ask about our jobs. If schools are to be open until 6pm we would then have to start cleaning later and by the time we have locked up it is going to be quite late. As we also have to start early in the day can anyone tell me what kind of a lifestyle caretakers and cleaners are going to have? We have families as well but as our wages are generally very low we won't be able to afford to send our children to these clubs and will therefore have to make other arrangements for our childcare whilst we work late to accommodate other parents' working lives. To me that is the main point, it is the parents job to look after their children, it shouldn't be a school responsibility.
Colin, Blyth, England
Kelly is effectively proposing to turn surrogate parenting into a government sponsored business. To achieve this, Kelly intends to use school premises as "holding areas" for children, until parents decide they have time to resume caring for their offspring - and she intends to make the taxpayer foot the bill. I consider this to be an outrageous abuse of taxpayers' money, a poor reflection on Ms Kelly's mental processes, and a sad indictment of British parents. It seems that we now have a new social phenomenon - the "latchkey parent".
Chris B, Bedford, England
I hope this scheme is implemented as soon as possible. Parents do not mind spending money on quality child care. It is reassuring for working mothers that their children are well cared for and have access to other sports. Schools are likely to have a lot of infrastructure in place and this scheme will benefit from using the existing facilities as also save children travelling from their school to after school clubs.
Anita Desai, Leatherhead, Surrey
As someone who doesn't have children I think this proposal is a disgrace, yet more of my hard earned taxes going to support someone else's short-sightedness and inability to look after their own children. Now we have to pay for someone to look after their kids, as well as feed and cloth them. An utter disgrace, what happened to parents actually looking after their own kids?
I think this is a good idea for working parents. Many primary schools finish at 3.00 so it is difficult to find work that will coincide with children coming out of school. Is Ms Kelly planning anything for school holidays. This is where most parents have problems.
Laraine, Little Sandhurst
My mother is a teacher and I can tell you this is not going to work. Sure the government plan to use "volunteers" or to give the job to private contractors, but it will fall as everything else does on the teachers.
There are still many, many details to be worked out, such as who will run these activities, who handles the money etc. VAT has already proven to be a minefield for schools in the pilot. But more important what does this say about how much, as a society, we value the family unit? Should the money and other resources not be put into ways of strengthening family life?
Rod Woodhouse, Hertfordshire
Would it not be better to find a way to allow parents to look after their own children? Tax relief for stay at home parents, a 'wage' for parenting, anything to break this situation where two wages are required to raise a family.
Robert Day, Billingham, UK
I am a parent of 2 children. However, I am concerned about the perception (right or wrong) that large sums of public money are being spent to support those of us who choose to have children. However, if as a society we wish to encourage the development of well-balanced children (who in future years will be supporting the ever growing older segment of the population), what positive alternatives are there?
It is fanciful to say that no additional burden will be placed on schools. I get to school before 8 and leave after 6 and would inevitably be called on to help with disciplinary problems. Teachers would relinquish classrooms that would need to be reorganised for the very different purpose of pre and after school care relying on others to ensure that the rooms were fit for purpose at the start of the school day. Increased wear and tear on furniture, carpets and other resources would require more frequent renewal from an already tight budget. Checks on the legion of helpers who would be required would swamp the already inadequate Criminal Records Bureaux. These are just a few of the practical problems that would arise without even entering in to the debate about parental responsibility for the care of their children.
Fergus Rule, Stafford, UK
I think it is a great idea, living in the southeast we couldn't possibly make ends meet with just one wage. We haven't had children precisely because childcare is so expensive that my income would barely cover that alone. What happened to the idea of companies providing crèches for younger children? That would help too!
While I welcome the proposal that schools be open longer to help working families (I for one would benefit), I notice that one suggestion is that private companies be brought in to perform some of the activities. I fear this will be another example of the government awarding huge contracts to companies whose only aim is to maximise profit - get as much money as possible out of the government (or rather tax payer), for the minimum service they can get away with. It makes we weep to think that not even our children's fundamental education is safe from the gradual creep of big-business into all areas of public service. The children are our future and surely paying a bit more for honest, dedicated, publicly paid staff is worth the investment.
Richard I Stone, Lowestoft, UK
I can see good in this proposal, in terms of exposing kids to a wider range of activities than might otherwise be the case; but there is also a downside in that it would enable some lazy parents to take even less responsibility for their offspring than is the case at present. My wife and I made a deliberate decision to have children, and to accept the consequences in terms of modifying our lifestyles in order to live up to our parental responsibilities. My view is that if you don't want to put the time and effort into looking after kids, then don't have them.
Think of the crippling cost of child care; mix in a part-time wage and do the maths? This is the one decent thing that a Labour government can do to make a real change to working families. It will even free up the time for a working day for those young mothers who say that being on benefit is more profitable than holding down a job between 9am-3:30pm. This is good news for all.
Chris, Colchester, England
Excellent idea. We're just planning to start a family, so this comes at just the right time for us!
It is a bad idea, once the school day is over children need to be elsewhere to relax and be with family, not spend hours away from home! Schools are for education not childminding establishments.
Many people believe that schools should not be opening this long, and that parents should take responsibility for their own children before and after hours. I would ask these people to consider the lives of others such as my family; I work to pay the mortgage, my partner is disabled and unable to work. These before and after school clubs are a god-send. It means I can do full time work, without which I would have no way to pay my bills, and the children are kept well entertained doing activities with which my partner is physically unable to join in. We also use facilities such as the holiday schemes run over summer holidays. And contrary to others' beliefs, we would gladly spend the time with the children ourselves if it were possible.
Mary, Dudley, West Midlands
I welcome schools opening longer and offering childcare support but this needs to be flexible and well thought out - more than just a play scheme. E.g. Older children should be offered homework support and sports activities during this time so that this is not pushed back further into the evening when parents get back from work. It also needs to be affordable and not dependent on take up from a large number of parents as is the case now, which discriminates against working parents who send their children to schools where the majority of families do not have childcare needs.
Fawzia Mir, Leeds, UK
I think that this is a wonderful idea. Parents that have to work have to pay enormous sums of money to a childminder to look after their children before and after school - particularly in London. So why not give money to the school to look after your children and you pay less (probably half the price). My daughter goes to a breakfast club currently and she loves it, I'm also very happy for her to go there. She doesn't need to go every day but would love it if I let her. She is well looked after and gets a good breakfast before starting her day. I don't believe it makes her any more tired and if I had to work full time I would gladly send her to an after school club also.
So my hard-earned taxes are to be spent on the children of parents who can't be bothered with them? Socialism at its nannying worst.
Hazel, Cheshire, England
To the singletons who bleat about their taxes supporting the development of children, shame on you. I assume you will not expect these children to support your pensions and health care needs when you are elderly.
To Gerry: Scotland I am a "singleton" and you assume correctly I will not expect your children to support my pension or health care needs. I have a private pension and private medical insurance that I fund out of my own pocket. I won't be asking your precious children for a penny. I am sick of parents whinging that the expense and hassle of parenthood is all too much for them and the taxpayer must bail them out. Maybe they should have thought about that before becoming parents. That's what I did. That's why I am a singleton.
You can bet that the "volunteers" who will be supervising after-school activities will be teachers who are coerced into doing it by school heads. I have already seen this happening: younger, less experienced teachers (especially ones who are not members of the teaching unions) are effectively bullied by senior management into giving up their time for parents' evenings, after-school meetings, sports clubs etc. They don't know their employment rights and they're being taken advantage of. I think the new plan will see this becoming more widespread. Aren't enough teachers leaving the profession as it is?
Anonymous teacher, UK
The government fails to realise that children get 13 weeks holiday per year (plus 5 INSET days) as opposed to parents who get 3- 6 weeks. What are we supposed to do with our children in the holidays? The few play schemes in my area are already expensive and oversubscribed, and they don't take children over 12 years of age. It's a nice idea to try to get more parents back to work, but we should remember that in doing so we are creating more teenagers left to their own devices and out causing mayhem on the streets.
This touches upon profound implications. Fundamentally, the balance of the role between parents and the school and the community at large. Children need parental and community affection. Equally they need proper upbringing which in the absence of the old fashioned smacking logic cannot achieve alone. The result in the years since things got 'liberal' to the point of near-paralysis, are more prisons, more measures for antisocial behaviour, increased drug abuse, and so on. Now after the State has more or less taken over the families and the schools are proposed to do likewise, the question arises 'why have a family at all'? Just for procreation?
Mr E J Poularas, London, UK
When we decided to have children, my wife gave up work specifically so she could be home for them when they came home from school or were sick, etc. As a result, we did without a good holiday every year, our car is now 10 years old but we have a great family life; all the household chores are done during the day so we have time to be with the kids when they come home from school and, importantly, in the evening. If you want kids, be prepared to be there for them - even if it means making sacrifices. I do not see why my hard earned taxes should subsidise those who want to have everything! When parents do not have enough time for their kids, that is when trouble starts to brew - as can be seen in the news and papers almost daily.
Roger, Poole, UK
To think that we used to be a country that led the world! This practice has been going on on the continent for some time in a similar form....wake up Britain
Alan Glenister, Bushey, Herts
A good idea, so long as the extra time is devoted to 'play'. We do not want to burn out the children or end up with those kids that do not attend after school missing out on 'lessons' that should have happened during core hours. To those whinging about taxes to pay babysitters - it isn't that simple - parents that do not work cost the state also. Think also about the kids in hoodies that might now be playing football after school rather than loitering in your street!
I don't see why not. It will make life easier for a lot of working parents whilst broadening kids experience of after school life into a range of constructive activities instead of merely hanging around the bus stop for hours.
Ellie, Edinburgh, UK
What a joke! My wife works at a school where such a scheme operates. Because parents want the school to fit around their schedules, 5 year olds are, in effect, working 42 hours a week. No wonder that when she teaches in the afternoon, these kids that attend these "convenient" clubs are often dropping off! And that's not to mention the teachers, who don't get paid anything for the extra hours they are working. Still, so long as the parents can work a little longer so they can afford to buy nice things, its ok isn't it?
I have never heard such a self-centred, anti-family idea in my life! Keeping kids AWAY from their parents for longer? Is this being asked for by all parents, or just those who want kids but don't want the associated hassle? We need to put more responsibility for upbringing back with parents, not take any more of it away! It's already too easy for bad behaviour to be blamed on schools. This will only make that situation worse.
Alex Hazel, Fareham, UK
You just can't win in this country! People always complain when the government spends money on other projects, now we have this they're still complaining. It might stop children hanging around the streets after school!
Nick, Salisbury, UK
Every morning for the past five years I have arrived at school at 8am, and left at around 5pm. I do not go to a private school. School transport gets me to school at eight - there are plenty of things to do. I can go to the library, do work, practise music, and more besides. Every evening there are extra-curricular activities on offer, which differ from day to day. Just make sure the money is put in the schools where it is needed most and where it can benefit the most people. A lot of schools have things already in place.
Emily, Manchester, UK
This is exactly what a Labour government should be about. At last children won't have to go home to find an empty house.
Emmanuel Godet, UK
Please tell me this is a joke. My tax money to pay for a babysitting service for parents? Parents presumably want to spend time with their children. And if they don't, why have children? Tax credits?
My kids attend private school where the day runs from 8:30am. Teaching finishes at 4:00pm and then there are numerous activities to keep them occupied until the bus leaves at 5pm. By the time the bus drops them home it is nearly 6. When they were in the local state primary they started at 8:30 and finished at 3:00. This makes it impossible for both parents to find full time work without resorting to expensive childcare (unless you are the type of parent that is happy with the "latch key" approach). The latest proposals seem like common sense but, as usual in the public sector, the unions will no doubt have something to say about it, as will those parents who want something for nothing and expect the government to meet the additional costs from the bottomless pit of "public money".
Andy D, Oxford, UK
I'm afraid these days most families need two wage earners to be able to afford the astronomic cost of housing in this country, so schemes like this are a necessity. Although what will happen during school holidays I have no idea.
£680m is a lot of money, but will this amount be eroded over time. So in five or ten years time, these schools that get the funding will be struggling.
Bumble, Dartford, Kent