Wasted time at school

Government sanctioned waste has a lot to answer for

Ministers might bang on about the importance of productivity improvement but their thinking seems restricted to vital investment in infrastructure, R&D and skills training

Drive around any town mid-afternoon and see streams of kids walking home from school – and wonder what they do when they get back home, often to an empty home – homework, maybe, but not for long – or play some records, but again not for long

In fact, many change into casual clothes and go out again to meet their chums, play games or hang around on street corners

They’ve got bags of stored-up energy which needs to be released – they seek some fun, excitement even – many channel this energy into positive activities – however, some get up to mischief, join gangs and indulge in petty crime or worse, not least because they’re bored and have nothing else to do

Meanwhile, at the same time, all their expensive school facilities lie empty – available but unused – for example, playing areas/ fields for different sports and kids to compete against each other or other schools , gymnasiums for exercise and fitness training, rooms and instruments for kids to learn to play chess, the piano or guitar , or form pop bands, orchestras or choirs

Overall, costs are not reduced by tipping the kids out onto the streets at 2-3 p.m. – their grey cells may be too tired to absorb more prescribed knowledge by then but why not keep them back until much later (6 p.m. say) and convert the school into something akin to a youth club after their lessons have finished – in their free time, most kids prefer to be with chums their own age anyway

And this could be done without asking current teachers to work longer hours – old boys and girls who had recently left the school could be recruited as relatively inexpensive teachers’ assistants to lead/ supervise/ referee/ train groups of the kids using all the school’s facilities – this would be a formalised work experience for them

Huge benefits to society as a whole would accrue if such a simple policy was adopted, including:

  • Expensive child-care costs for many families would be decimated at a stroke
  • Many more parents, especially those with valuable experience, would be released to join the national labour force – currently, there’s a looming shortage in all developed nations
  • Kids would enjoy a broader education by learning stuff outside the narrow curriculum
  • Kids would also be better prepared for competing in the big wide world after leaving school
  • Petty crime would fall
  • Many kids would be deterred from lives of crime
  • Fewer kids would drift into using or selling drugs, not least because ‘county lines’ recruitment would become more difficult

Indeed, years ago, youth clubs took on much of this role, but far too many of them have since been disbanded, for one reason or another

So one has to ask why the government does not implement such changes – the penalty costs of the current waste of existing school facilities must surely be in the £ billions

It’s yet another open goal for ministers to consider when chasing national productivity improvement




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