So now the government is suggesting that schools should be open from 8am – 6pm, in order to provide childcare for working parents. Liz Truss suggests that, if schools are not providing this already, they should ask them “why not?”. And Gove wants pupils to have more hours in school and shorter school holidays.
Well, for a start, the purpose of school is to provide an education, not childcare so that parents can work longer hours. Second of all, a 10-hour day would be a long day for an adult, let alone a child. Thirdly, this means that parents would only see their children to get them up, dressed and off to school, and then home, bath and bed. And if both parents are working full time, that leaves the weekend for taking care of household chores, so they are still not spending time together. Not exactly great for building a strong connection! And where is the time for children to rest and play? Both are essential for their health, development, learning and wellbeing.
The government seems hell bent on getting all parents to work as many hours as possible, and getting children into school as soon as possible and as long as possible. I’m starting to wonder why they think people have children?
I’d also suggest that if parents need to work long hours, the children would be better off being cared for in a family environment, either by grandparents or other relatives, or by a registered childminder.
I’d go as far as to say this contravenes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that “the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community… [and] the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”
Why are we subsidising childcare to such an extent? Why not subsidise families instead, and let the parents decide how much childcare they want, if at all? Because, and here’s a shocking idea, some people might actually want to bring up their own children themselves.