Tag Archives: Education

My letter to David Cameron

5 Feb

Dear Mr Cameron

Can we have a new Secretary of State for Education please? Can we have one that actually knows something about children and education?  I understand Mr Gove went to a private school which is all very well and lovely but he doesn’t know the first thing about state schools. Yes, he allegedly ‘consults’ with teachers before he comes up with his fanciful ideas but I’d love to know just which schools these teachers are from. You can bet your bottom dollar they are not from struggling state schools.

Improving education in schools will not happen by making the days longer. It will come about by investing in excellent teachers, listening to and respecting their views and by providing them with adequate support and resources to do their job. They are the experts when it comes to Education, not Mr Gove. Asking already over-stretched teachers to work longer hours will have them running for the door. That should bring an interesting end to his education reforms.

I always try to keep an open mind about change. I look at suggestions from both sides and  have always been very good at seeing things from other people’s point of view BUT, what planet is Mr Gove living on?? In a recent interview he said that if our children are in school for 10 hours per day, this still gives them plenty of ‘family time’. How does he come to this conclusion I wonder? If my children finish school at 6, we will be home at 6.15pm and they go to bed soon after 7pm. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for a family meal, let alone anything else. So, weekdays are written off, that means children will only get to spend time with their parents on a Saturday and Sunday. What about parents who have to work weekends? What about all the chores that working parents have to fit in at the weekend, like shopping, housework etc? Does Mr Gove really think that this is an acceptable amount of ‘family time’? If he does, then I pity his children.

If Mr Gove had an educational background then he would know that children learn through play and through exploring ideas themselves. They do not learn best when sat in a classroom for 10 hours having his regimented curriculum spouted at them. Children need time to play what THEY WANT TO PLAY, to use their imagination, to be free to come up with their own ideas and most of all they need time to rest and relax.  My children are exhausted at the end of the school day as it is.

Your Education Secretary has already done his best to destroy our quality family time. He has taken away our parental right to decide when we want to holiday as a family. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that parents who push the limits should be punished but to say that we cannot take our child out of school for even a couple of days in a year is harsh. For most families this means the end of any foreign holidays where children can learn new cultures and languages.

What Mr Gove  doesn’t seem to realise is that we have children because we want them. NOT because we want to pack them off to school for 10 hours a day. We actually want to see them grow and develop and we want to be the biggest factor in that. Otherwise we would just drop them off at the school gates at age 4 and collect them again at age 18.

Mr Gove bases a lot of his theories on the PISA results. Considering the number of different countries participating in this study varies from year to year, it is hardly an accurate comparison. One thing I did find interesting though is that one of the top performing countries, Korea, also reports having the unhappiest students. But hey, does it really matter if our children are unhappy? Mr Gove seems to think not.

Oh and I have to mention the idea of getting children to ‘mop floors and pick up litter’ as way of punishment for bad behaviour. I assume this is some kind of joke! If a child is disruptive in class and refuses to do what they have been told then what makes you think they will pick up a mop and set to work with it? They are more likely to use it as a weapon.

Is there really such a thing as a free lunch?

18 Sep

I had to turn up the radio yesterday as I heard the news.  For a minute I thought I was hearing things? Free school meals, for all children? Really?

I am quite oblivious to what is going on in the news, half the time I’m asleep before the ten o’clock news so I really wasn’t expecting this big piece of news. Like many parents across the UK, this means my son will be entitled to a free hot lunch at school, and he will enjoy this benefit for his final two years at infant school. Of course I am happy that my son will get a free hot meal but if the government thinks I cannot afford to send my son to school with a healthy lunch then I wish they would concentrate their efforts on bringing down our household bills instead.

What really bugs me about this decision is how the government can justify spending £600m on a plan that is to benefit the more affluent of families. The children who are living in poverty are already entitled to a free school meal so it is not going to benefit those that need it most. It also won’t benefit those children over 7 years old. Why not roll this out to all school children if they think the benefits are worth this amount of money? Do children stop needing a good nutritional meal when they are 7?

The other problem I have with this decision is where is the money going to come from?  We are still in the depths of recession, no matter what the government likes to tell us. Couldn’t this money be put to better use? Plans to slash school’s budgets have already been proposed by Michael Gove which could mean some staff such as Teaching Assistant’s losing their jobs, this will have a detrimental effect on our children’s education. Teachers will be under more pressure, children that need one-to-one support will not get it. I work in a school on a voluntary basis and I have seen just how valuable Teaching Assistants are and just how much work they do. It’s not just about listening to children read anymore, they are a vital part of the education system. They provide one-to-one support for children with special educational needs and they assist the teachers who have to manage large classes of up to 30 children. I’d like to see Michael Gove manage a class of that size without any support!

So, is there such a thing as a free lunch or will our education system pay for it in the long run? What do you think?

Will your child be missing school for this year’s holiday?

24 Mar
at the beach

Image by Caligold via Flickr

With the holiday season looming, and many of us thinking about booking that well-earned break, how tempted are you to take your children out of school and go during term time? According to travelsupermarket.com, savings of up to 70% can be had if you avoid the school holidays. To me, that’s a massive temptation and I’m sure we are not the only parents who will feel this way, given the current economic climate.

But you should be careful. Whilst the government, as you’d expect, looks unkindly on this sort of absence, in fact it is the school that has ultimate decision making powers. They can authorise up to 10 days of leave in exceptional circumstances – and cheaper holidays might not be viewed as exceptional. They are able to issue ‘truanting’ fines of £50 for unauthorised absence, but compare this to the potential savings from taking a holiday during term time and how much of a deterrent is it?

Taking your children out of school can have a substantial effect on them, especially if they are approaching important exams, struggle in areas like English or Maths or if the leave is at the start of a new term.  If they are young, they might struggle to catch up with friendships in class. Some would argue, however, that a hands-on experience of a new country or culture is an education in itself and could be beneficial in many ways.

Whatever your opinion, there are financial savings to be made .It seems that just in our local area, head teachers of different schools can have very different opinions about this subject.  Some completely understand the dilemma faced by parents and are relaxed about the issue, whilst others are more strict in their interpretation of government guidelines.

In my opinion, the travel and holiday companies make a killing out of this situation – perhaps it’s those organisations who have questions to answer.

How supportive is your child’s head teacher about this?