‘It’s as if schools assume there’s a woman at home waiting for pick-up time’

Jun 29, 2015 by

Part-time ‘settling in’ periods for infants can be difficult for parents to fit around busy working lives. Do some heads need to be more flexible?

Event manager Lucy Dixon is a single parent who has worked full-time since her son was five-months old. George is currently in childcare from 8am to 5.30pm. This means, Dixon points out, that a normal school day is going to be on the short side for him – and she’s dreading the prospect of several weeks of “settling-in” with shorter hours when he starts in reception.

The settling-in period, when infant schools sometimes accept children for only part of a day, can cause big problems for some parents, it seems.

“It’s ludicrous,” says Dixon, from Suffolk. “It’s like schools assume there’s a woman at home baking cakes and waiting for pick-up time while their husband’s out earning a salary.” September is always the start of her busiest time of year, and she is “already panicking” at the thought of how she will manage if the headteacher at her local school isn’t willing to be flexible.

Another parent, a doctor married to another doctor in Northumberland, describes a mixture of short days and then having to collect her daughter for lunch and then take her back again. When her son starts school in September, it’ll be the same. “I have protested because it’s so difficult with our hours, but the head wouldn’t budge.”

Why do infant schools feel the need to impose a short day in those first few weeks? The National Association of Head Teachers’ president, Tony Draper, says it is important for schools to get to know a child well before they go full-time, and the stakes are high. “If it goes wrong at the start, it can sour the whole of a child’s school life,” he says.

Source: ‘It’s as if schools assume there’s a woman at home waiting for pick-up time’ | Education | The Guardian

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