Should school hours be extended to 5pm?

It’s a sad, sad indictment of society when people are calling for school hours to be extended to 5pm.

And not because it would be of any benefit to the kids, let’s be clear – but because it more fluidly fits with modern lifestyles, which often include two working parents who don’t knock off until 5pm or later.

Who has come up with this preposterous idea? Do they have kids? Do they understand the struggle that is the fourth term of the school year, when all of that learning and growing finally catches up with your child and they become an exhausted, emotional wreck?


The idea of adding an extra 10 hours a week of contact time at school to the mix is nuts, plain and simple.

Now, this new research has come out of the United States, which is admittedly (blessedly) a very different beast to Australia, but in the report by the Center for American Progress, they have reflected upon the fact that “schools have not updated their policies to adapt to this changed world, and this means that large numbers of working parents must split their time between being a committed parent and being a committed working professional”.

Well, what a shocker – parents have to figure out how to raise little humans, pay the bills and develop their careers? This is certainly a challenge – but not one that we should address by changing childrens’ school schedules.

The typical school day does not reflect normal work hours, and most schools close two hours or more before the end of the typical workday, the report found. This “misaligned school schedules cost the U.S. economy $55 billion in lost productivity annually”.

True, we may be able to make more money as a society if we lengthen school hours.

But at what cost?

Call me crazy, but I’m of the belief that kids should be largely raised by – wait for it – their parents.

I’m a firm advocate of the role that childcare has to play for modern families, both for the benefit of the child and the parent. But lengthening school hours to suit the plight of over-scheduled working parents is, in my view, a massive over-reach.

Ideally, it should be workplaces and employers – driven by government policy – that will pave the way for flexible working arrangements and I truly believe this will be the way our economy evolves.

But until then, schools and teachers are not there to act as surrogate childcare to fit in around parents.