I’d like to address the recent announcement by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet that the NSW Government is considering an overhaul of school operating hours.
We have serious issues confronting us in education, with the most serious of them being the teacher shortage and the cause of the shortage – uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads. Rather than dealing with these important issues, all we have is another distraction from the Premier.
What Mr Perrottet fails to appreciate with respect to the whole question of school operating hours is that there are variations occurring across the state right now. School hours already vary school to school, from suburb to suburb, and these variations reflect historical and other contemporary issues in each location, including bus timetables.
Changing a school’s formal operating times is not a straightforward thing. What might satisfy one parent will certainly not satisfy many others. Any variation to a school’s routine not only requires extensive consultation, but consensus across hundreds, if not thousands, of people involved in each school.
It also needs to be understood that the primary purpose of schooling is teaching and learning. There is, of course, a by-product – that of supervising (minding) children.
If the issue that the Premier wants to address relates to the complexities and challenges of contemporary society and pressures on working parents, then the announcement and solution is there in front of us – the State, together with the Commonwealth government, should fully fund before- and after-school care. And here is another novel idea, attach a pre-school to every single primary school as well.
This is not a solution to the many problems facing our profession, it’s just another diversionary tactic on the part of the Premier.