Monday, November 08, 2004

The Chaos of School Life

While we're on the subject of school, how disorganised is it possible to be? Have a look at France. Here is a typical school week for a friend of mine.

She has three sons.

One is in nursery school, mornings only as he builds up to full-time. The nursery school is open Monday, Tuesday, (NOT Wednesday) Thursday and Friday. School starts at 9:00am for him and finishes at 12:00. The nursery school is about 500m from the primary school.

The second boy is in primary school. The primary is open Monday, Tuesday, (NOT Wednesday) Thursday, Friday and 2 Saturday mornings out of 3. The free Saturdays are not regular, but are decided for each term around, (but not before) the beginning of term. School starts at 9:00am for him, and finishes at 4:30.

The third boy is in Secondary school. The secondary school is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday morning, Thursday, and Friday (NOT Saturday mornings). School starts at 8:00am and finishes at 5:00pm.

Add all that up, and even with school transport it is decidedly awkward. It's almost as if someone sat down and tried to creat the most stupid and inefficient way of organising the school day to inflict maximum inconvenience on anyone who wants to do anything apart from arrange their shopping and housework around school.

Of course this is France - 'traditional' roles expected of women anyway. BUT, my friend, and numerous others like her want and need to do other things. For many it's work. So add to the chaos above a breathtaking employer's attitude to part-time flexible hours and you have a recipe for a very unnecessary, stressful and ineffective life for many many women.

In this part of France, the local education authority has taken soundings from parents on if and how they would like the school week changed. They were at pains to point out that parents' views were at best incidental to their decision. I suppose that's honesty in some form. I can't wait to see what difference it will make to my friend's week.

I guess it at least it prepares the kids for French bureaucracy in later life - but that's another story...

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