Headteachers fears over Kelly's hours
SUFFOLK headteachers have today spoken of their concerns about government plans to increase school hours.Education secretary Ruth Kelly announced a £38million funding package yesterday for the development of extended schools in the east of England.
SUFFOLK headteachers have today spoken of their concerns about government plans to increase school hours.
Education secretary Ruth Kelly announced a £38million funding package yesterday for the development of extended schools in the east of England.
However, headteachers are worried that opening schools from 8am to 6pm will increase teachers' workload.
Neil Watts, headteacher at Northgate High School, in Sidegate Lane, Ipswich, said: "I can see the benefits to children and families of the proposals but I do not think children spend enough time with their families as it is.
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"Family life is an important part of growing up and development and I would not like to see it eroded further."
Mr Watts added that the school was not yet ready to plan the after school activities and clubs proposed by the Department for Education and Skills (DFES).
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Creeting St Mary Primary School headteacher Lyn Spall said she broadly welcomed the plans for extra hours.
She added: "I think it is a good idea to a village school like ours in the wider community but I do worry that teachers will be called upon to do more work.
"We work hard enough as it is. It needs to be thought through properly. There are also security issues and other considerations that have to be arranged if the school is to be opened later in the evenings."
Jon Trotter, headteacher at Handford Hall Primary School, in Gatacre Road, Ipswich, was sceptical about government promises that teachers' workloads would not increase as a result of the extended schools scheme.
He added: "I can see the benefits from families who need the wider network of support but I am not too sure how it will work in practice.
"If it will mean extra work for schools then I am sceptical at the moment we will just have to wait and see."
Under the plans schools will be open from 8am-6pm all year round offering a varied menu of activities, such as homework clubs, sport, music tuition, clubs such as chess and first aide courses, opportunities to visit museums and galleries, learning a foreign language, volunteering, and business and enterprise activities.
However, Martin Goold, county secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT) warned of 'tremendous problems' that could be caused by extending school opening hours.
He said: "Extended schools are not a new idea but we are concern at the speed of decision and policy making. The plans need to be thought through properly.
Mr Goold added: "These plans must not have any effect on school budgets but I suspect there will be extra work at least for school managers.
"We are not against the idea but it has to be planned properly. The government is asking schools to provide needs they were not physically designed to do."
Education secretary Ruth Kelly said: "By 2010 all children under 14 who want to, could have access to breakfast and after-school clubs offering exciting activities from 8am to 6pm.
"These will give them the opportunity to keep fit and healthy, to acquire new skills, to build on what they learn during the school day as well as have fun."
She added: "This is a demanding, but exciting vision which fits with what parents want for their children."
Are extended schools a good idea? Will family life suffer? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org