Schools and working mums

I’m having a bad school moment.

I think some schools just haven’t got their heads around the idea that women work. Just as some children’s services seem to deliberately exclude men. I was sat in a school meeting the other day about literacy and the teacher said there was tea available for all the mums, despite the fact that there was a very prominent and tall dad sitting right in front of her. Perhaps she thought he was in disguise.

Our school, which shall remain nameless, has scheduled the reception school play at 3.30pm on a weekday. This is apparently because the kids are too tired to stay up for a 6pm start, which, theoretically, is very laudable. However, it is practically impossible for working parents, particularly those who commute, because they will have to take at least half a day off work and this is in December, people, when they will already have exhausted all their holiday – and more – on the school holidays, inset days, half term, etc. Why make it hard for them? Wouldn’t it be simpler to put it on at, say, 9am so they can just be a bit late for work? As it is, neither I nor my partner can attend the reception play, but the class teacher has allowed me to attend a rehearsal, which is very good of her and my mum, who does the pick-up on the day in question, was going to attend the real thing.
However, we now learn that other children are barred from the performance on the grounds that there will be too many people in the hall, despite the fact that this school has about the same-sized hall as my daughter’s last school which had at least double the pupil numbers and let anyone in because basically half the kids sat on their parents’ knees.
The performance is just after school finishes. If you have more than one child, what are you supposed to do with them? Make them disappear in a puff of smoke? Obviously, you are supposed not only not to work, but to have a whole list of available babysitters who don’t have children in the same class as your own child [as they will be attending the play]. If I had time to cultivate such a list, my life would be a lot easier, but I am constantly running to keep up.
I have also had a conversation with a friend who strongly suspects that the school is going to somehow dodge the whole after school issue. I had thought schools had to have after school clubs in place by September 2010. We have heard not one peep about this at our school. Perhaps they think offering the odd netball club from 3 till 4 for over eights is dealing with the problem. Well, whoopee! That is absolutely and totally useless for parents who work and have more than one child. I have a 4, 6 and 9 year old. Not one club caters to the same age group. I know many schools are great on after school clubs [my eldest daughter’s last school is a case in point, but it was in a deprived area of London and we are now "in the country"], but it definitely isn’t universal. I know schools are supposed to focus on the child’s well being, but isn’t helping their parents be a little less stressed out actually contributing to happier children?
 





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