Green Park Primary School – Swimming against the tide?

A few days ago I was contacted by parents of children at this highly regarded School in Maghull. My own daughter (Jen) went there and I was a Governor for over 20 years until about 6 years ago.

My recollection is that the School has only ever had 3 Head Teachers and that includes the present one. Uniquely the School also stands side by side with a Catholic Primary School (St. John Bosco) indeed they share what you could call a common site.

The issue raised with me as a Borough and indeed Town Councillor for the ward in which the School sits was the reduction in the school day from 3.30pm back to 3.15 or 3pm.

The concerns are two fold – firstly, this goes against the present tide of schools increasing the hours of their school days and secondly the potential congestion outside the two schools at going home time if both are pouring out children within minutes of each other. Presently there’s 20 minutes between the two schools finishing time but under the alternative proposals there could be 10 or just 5 minutes depending on whether Green Park plumps for 3pm or 3.15pm.

Under the close at 3pm proposal the School day could lose 15 minutes teaching time but under the now second alternative (3.15) no teaching time would be lost. The lunch time would be reduced under both proposals to create room for manoeuvre. I would add that the School is saying it wants to make the move so that it can open up opportunities for after school clubs etc.

I do worry about the congestion if the Schools end up with leaving times that are too close.

I also hear the worries of some parents about the teaching time matter. Some folk clearly think that the time should not change and any time created by shortening the lunch period should be used for additional teaching. But at the same time teachers can only do so much because they are not getting long holidays with nothing to do as the national press may suggest at times. I have teachers in my family and I know what long hours they put in.

So Green Park finds itself looking to reduce its school day at the very same time that the Education Secretary, the rather odd and hard to like Michael Gove, is talking about doing just the opposite. The timing is clearly unfortunate!

I do hope this is all sorted out quickly and with the wider School community on board as I said in an interview with Radio Merseyside earlier today.

I can just hear the comments of Sir Humphrey echoing in the background and saying of the proposed change ‘that’s very brave Minister’.