A while back I wrote a few articles about education and how things could be potentially improved. I included a quality measurement which I thought might be relevant in recognising Scottish education was getting things right. I summarised as – “imagine driving past the school gates before 8:00 o’clock in the morning and seeing a queue of staff and pupils waiting to get in”. If they were that keen then the school must contain things they wanted to get access to and they would be incredibly positive in their view of education.
I also wrote an article this week, which covered the current discussion on whether the clocks should be put forward two hours at the end of March this coming year. I’m pretty relaxed with this and one of the things I was suggesting is that schools could be open far longer hours than is currently the case. Why?
Well first of all the majority of teachers don’t drop tools at 3:00 or 4:00 they tend to work on and then go home and work there too. I’m not suggesting that teachers work longer hours than they do and indeed there’s probably a good case for them to work shorter hors by means of an efficient system for education in general. The kids are long gone of course as soon as the last bell tolls. They have lives to be getting on with, classes to take, activities to be enjoyed and computer games to play whilst they watch TV and text their mates.
Daylight hours still have a part to play in our plans and activities and work routines still revolve around the 9:00 to 5:00 standard working day. I know a lot of you will work longer than this and some of you will work different hours to this. We have a mixture of flexibility, employer needs and sadly, exploitation and the workaholic tendencies all happening and managing to co-exist as we need.
If we adopted double summer time daylight hours would move and some segments of the working population could adopt different start and finishing times, which suited their need to be at work when it was light. It would need careful planning which would be down to employers and workers to agree on. No need for any government intervention. They have more pressing things to consider like how they achieve the lowest form of governance possible and then delivering the savings from that to the taxpayer.
What if schools were open from 7:30 and closed at 9:30 everyday? Pupils/students could go anytime between those hours and parents could choose which days would best suit them too. The current arrangement makes schools almost act as child-minding services so people can work part-time hours. A more flexible approach to the hours kids could be at school would help and might also actually boost the economy.
Lots of employers would probably benefit from opening longer hours and the flexibility of the school day would greatly aid achieving this. Greater variability of start and finish times would also reduce travel congestion and the need to cram shopping into weekends. As I mention in the double summertime article shops in the USA manage to open from 10:00AM until 9:00 PM Monday to Saturday and just a couple of hours less on Sundays.
Other things could be easier, for example it’s a pain trying to get a car serviced as it has to be done between 8:30 and 5:30, longer hours would relieve that pressure. Banks are open on Saturdays and some even on Sundays and they used to do late nights until 6:00 on Thursdays. They could open longer everyday and horror of horrors clear cheques and payments 24/7/365.
Back to the schools though, your child has to go to school for the equivalent of so many hours per week. This is a minimum not a maximum. You could apply to the school for your child to attend during the hours that suited you as long as it met the minimum hours. Pushing out the boat on this one a bit further, children could also go to school longer if they enjoyed it and it wasn’t being misused as a child-minding service.
The community could use the schools for all sorts of activities. Remember adult evening classes? Why not?
We could have fewer schools staffed by larger numbers of teachers. We could actually use schools as assets and have them used far more instead of sitting idly for hours and hours as is the case presently.
We’d also be able to take holidays at times, which suit us, rather than get them squashed up into six weeks in the summer and various other weeks during the year. Further savings there for everyone. Sorry travel firms.
There must be a huge potential for ditching the 9:00 to 5;00 for us all. Flexibility. Imagination, innovation, change management, co-ordination etc.
Time is the key, better lifestyles the result.