Its not because I think teachers should work longer hours.
How anyone has the energy to look after a room full of six year olds, then go home and carry on working, I will never know.
It's not because I want my childrens' academic progress to come before everything else in their lives (I don't).
It's not because I think most parents shouldn't be trusted to bring up their children correctly and the state should take over (again, I don't)
It's certainly not because I am a big fan of Michael Gove or the current government (to be clear, dear internet, I'm not).
It's not even that I agree with the scheme, if, as many people are saying it will mean compulsory 10 hour days for all children.
Here are the reasons I will not join the 156,000+ people who have so far signed this particular petition:
Because it says longer schools hours would cut into time: "you are meant to be spending as a family"
and that "allowing mums to return back to work" doesn't make financial sense
Regardless of weather or not I agree with Gove's plans, the sentiment of this petition seems clear:
Mothers are meant to be at home with their kids, they shouldn't be allowed in the workplace.
Well I can't sign up to that idea. Having Mum at home full time works brilliant for many families, I benefited from it myself as a child but what about the mums who have no choice but to work, just to make ends meet? Sure they are putting food on the table but they are meant to be at home? What about those who've spent years building careers or businesses? Should they jack it all in knowing they may never be able to return? What about the fathers who stay at home because their wives have greater earning power? Longer school hours would give them the chance to return to work too. But it's only the Mothers who get a mention, it's only Mum who is meant to have her life dictated to her. Heck, in that case what about the lesbian parents I know? They are all Mums - who is supposed to be earning in those families? Surely it doesn't make financial sense for their households to live on benefits for want of a penis? Or perhaps the writers of this petition do not think that these loving and committed couples should be "allowed" children anyway. It seems they consider the only acceptable family unit to be Dad the breadwinner and Mum at home with the kids.
Ok I'm probably going beyond what the writers of this petition intended, I suspect they mean well but the whole thing comes across not just as a criticism of the plans but of any mother who works outside the home. Almost all families are just trying to do the best for their kids in whatever particular circumstances they find themselves. Exactly who is it that decided what all families are "meant to" do from 3.30-6pm, (on weekdays, in term time) anyway?
I'm not even sure what exactly Gove is proposing. I can't find anything definite (please link to it in the comments if you have). I certainly would not agree with compulsory, 10 hour a day, academic drilling. But extended provision could be a great thing.The school could become a focal point for children's activities. Many parents spend a lot of time and money ferrying kids to dance/sports/music lessons. If you have more than one kid it's a logistical nightmare, if the class is at 4 pm and you work until 6 pm it's impossible (oh I was forgetting, you're not meant to be at work). Schools could offer many of these activities, all under one roof and government funding could make them accessible to all.
In reality most schools are already open far longer than the standard school day anyway. At my daughter's school there is breakfast club from 8 am and after school club until 6 pm. These aren't staffed by the teachers and they just about make it possible for parents to do a days work (so long as it pays enough to cover the fees). Personally I prefer to have my daughter stay in school on the days I work, I trust the school and it's staff to keep her safe and happy. If school clubs weren't available I'd simply have to find something elsewhere. But I'm lucky that I'm paid enough to afford it, many genuinely aren't. I'm not saying all mums should work but government funding to allow them to make the choice? I don't see that as a bad thing.
If it turns out that this really is a plan to introduce state control in all aspects of family life and to work our children to breaking point, to produce a nation of miserable, exam passing automatons then I'll be right there signing petitions and a hell of a lot more. But not this petition. I still won't agree that we should fight against these proposals by imposing on every family someone else's unrealistic ideal of how they are "meant" to live their lives.
And now for the bit where I get petty.
Ok really petty.
If you are going to argue that kids shouldn't have any more education - may I suggest that you at least do so with well constructed sentences? (I realise I may be sitting in a glass house here...)
family units have to work together from teaching right and wrong
learning life skills to be a child not an android in societyThere are enough pressures on children from an early age and yet trying to impose moreThese three form the penultimate paragraph, I've split them up to emphasise just how much they don't make senseThe writers also assert that the scheme would not be cost effective due to the additional expense to schools. Presumably they have access to a detailed economic assessment of these costs versus the potential gains from income tax paid by the many thousands of individuals who would return to work. Unfortunately the writers forgot to provide a link to this assessment. Which is a shame for Michael Gove. The current government isn't know for it's wild generosity to anyone without at least an earldom, Many of us may actually start liking them if they are planning to pour loads of money into childcare and kids clubs for struggling families. Or could it perhaps be that the writers need to stay behind after school for a few more maths lessons?
(I told you I was going to get petty)