Make changes to school hours and services now, for parents & child education [Gibraltar]

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Many modern families have trouble resolving incompatibilities with personal lives and the education system. Public school hours, particularly the summer half days, are difficult for working parents; more so if:

  • you are a single parent
  • both parents are working
  • grandparents/ other family members are unable to help out

Half days are totally inconvenient; finishing earlier than any standard jobs half day, requiring parents to dip into more of their already restricted annual leave (counting bank holidays and the standard 25 days annual it is already impossible for working parents to cover the Summer/ Spring/ Autumn/ Winter school holidays!). There has been mention that the summer hours run in conjunction with the heat, however other private schools have found a way to work around this (surely public schools can too?). Furthermore, having new schools built to custom designs would include all the necessary features to control temperature- making this the perfect time to act on these points...

Many parents would like to explore breakfast clubs and after school clubs. Even those who are fortunate enough to have family friendly hours, often fail to have hours that actually facilitate collecting children at the required times (2:45-3:15pm). There is a massive incompatibility of school hours with working hours here; if you work 8-3:30pm for example you could neither drop or collect your children on time. The system appears to assume parents will have 1. help from other family members, or 2. be able to afford private child minders/ nurseries, OR 3. will make the decision to have a parent leave work/ not work at all. 
Considerations are desperately needed! More so for single parents or parents with more than 1 child (and especially those with more than 1 child in different schools). 

School outings are perhaps the simplest issue to resolve; schools should provide the transfer of all children to/ from locations outside the school premise. Parents should both drop and collect children from the school, within the same hours of the school day. The idea that time from the outing would be lost due to the school’s transfer of children is nonsensical; this could be factored into the organisation of the day and improved by the addition of school transport (which would also reduce the number of cars travelling to separate locations, affecting traffic and pollution of the environment).

If we can resolve these issues we would be:

  1. Supporting and encouraging working parents;
  2. Reducing parental stress and promoting stability for children;
  3. Facilitating the continued learning for children outside the school environment; and
  4. Ensuring full school days that optimise child learning.

Surely as a society we are responsible for facilitating the above. We are petitioning the government to make these changes ASAP.

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