Thursday, 18 April 2013

Michael Gove

I heard on the radio tonight that education secretary Michael Gove is proposing that children spend more time in school, with shorter holidays and longer school days. He claims this will particularly help 'poor' children, as it will enable them to increase their level of education. It is, in my view, designed to increase the role of schools as a form of childcare enabling parents to spend more time at work. In the case of 2-parent families it will increase the logic of both parents going out to work full time and in the case of single parent families it will mean there is no excuse for the parent not to be at work once the child/children are old enough to be in school.
Yet again, the government is bringing in measures to encourage stay-at-home Mums or Dads to enter the workplace (following recent tax breaks for working parents to help with child-care costs, not matched with any help for couples who choose to have one parent stay at home and look after the children). And since when have conservatives believed in increasing the amount of time that children spend in the care of the State? In fact, conservatives used to believe that the family was the bedrock of society but this bunch seem to have decided that the market should be awarded that role instead. Parents, it seems, should be enabled to spend as much of their time as possible creating wealth, while the children are prepared as thoroughly as possible for their own future roles as producers and consumers. Why not just cut out the middle man and send children back into the workplace, Dickensian style.
Having said all that, since we do live in a world where many parents do struggle to balance work with home life, there is an argument for making childcare less expensive and extending school hours does seem like an obvious way of tackling this issue. However, I do not think it should be compulsory, but it should be available for those children whose parents wish to take advantage of it. Indeed, many schools already run optional breakfast clubs and after school clubs.
As for Gove's proposal to shorten summer holidays, how typical of the current regime of millionaires to not appear to have any concerns about the fact that the cost of family holidays during the period when schools are closed would go up even higher than their current highly inflated levels.

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