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45-hour school week: parents divided over plans

PUBLISHED: 10:28 22 June 2012

Karen Johnson and her daughter Ellie-Mae, who studies at Greenacre Primary School. Karen has started a petition against lengthening school hours.

Karen Johnson and her daughter Ellie-Mae, who studies at Greenacre Primary School. Karen has started a petition against lengthening school hours.

Archant

PARENTS are divided over plans to lengthen the school day at Greenacre Primary School when it becomes an academy.

Mum-of-two Karen Johnson, 40, has started a petition against the move and has vowed to turn up to collect her daughter Ellie-May, six, at 3.30pm when the timetable runs until 6pm.

She says the majority of parents are on her side, and has gathered more than 130 signatures already.

“There will be no time for anything else,” said Ms Johnson, of Townsend Close. “When does she get family time, or play? “And this will be for the next four years until she goes to high school.

“I would understand more if they said it was voluntary - if it’s activities surely that should be up to parents. It’s a disgrace.”

She added the length of the school day would be detrimental to youngsters, and was angry at a perceived lack of consultation.

“I first heard about the change to hours last week when I got the letter,” she said. “Instead of getting that letter home we should have been told they were planning on doing this.

“It should be up to me as a mother.

“They’re going to be extra tired so in the day they’re not going to be concentrating on their school work.

“A 45 hour week is more than a full-time job. If I had a younger child I wouldn’t send them to Greenacre.”

She says she considered withdrawing Ellie-May from the school but did not want to “disrupt her life” - so she plans to continue collecting her at 3,30pm each day instead.

But other parents have embraced the opportunity for new enrichment courses.

Mum-of-two Louise Allen, 32, says she would not be able to send her son Nicholas, eight, to enjoy sports like horse-riding under normal circumstances.

“At first I was worried for him as he has special needs,” said Ms Allen, of Austin Road. “If I want him to go to an after school club I would usually have to pay for a special carer on top of the normal cost.

“Under these plans I get all of that in school for free and that’s something I couldn’t provide for him myself - I wouldn’t stand a chance.

“They’ve alleviated any worries I’ve had.”

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