Long days turn children into ‘ghosts’, say teachers


Children who are left at school for up to ten hours a day by busy, working parents are becoming overtired, withdrawn and ‘ghost-like’, teachers have warned.

Fifty seven per cent of the 1300 teachers polled by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said they believed children are spending less time with their parents than two years ago. Most put it down to work commitments (94 per cent) and the increasing use of technology in the home (92 per cent).

An early-years teacher from a state school in North Yorkshire said children as young as four were placed in before and after-school care from 8am to 6pm. "These children walk around like ghosts, do not talk to anyone, fall asleep frequently and do not progress as quickly as their peers,” she said. “Their parents are also 'too busy' to support them in an adequate way at home."

When asked about the number of hours children should spend in timetabled education, 50 per cent responded that five hours a day at primary school was enough, with 28 per cent saying it should be less. Thirty eight per cent said a six-hour day was suitable for secondary students, while 45 per cent believed young people should spend no more than 5.5 hours a day in timetabled education.

Of the teachers who thought the timetabled day was too long, the majority said it caused tiredness among pupils (93 per cent), damaged pupils' ability to concentrate (87 per cent) and caused disruptive behaviour (67 per cent).

The ATL’s poll also found that 71 per cent of school staff think children should not start school until they are five or older. Just 24 per cent believe four is the right age to start school.

The results of this survey come after Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss announced earlier this month that action had been taken to allow schools to cater to younger children and to remain open longer to give families more flexibility.


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