Primary schools face 11-hour opening

Dutch primary schools have been told they must be able to supervise pupils from 7.30 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening from August next year. MPs voted last night in favour of the move which will oblige schools to open earlier and stay open later if one or more parents makes such a request.

Currently most of the 3,000 or so Dutch primary schools are open from around 08.15 in the morning to between 3.00 and 3.30 in the afternoon. The aim of the plan is to make it easier for parents to combine work with looking after their children.
But schools will be exempt from the new regulations if there are no suitable after-school facilities nearby and they cannot organise extra-curricular activities themselves. ‘We cannot force schools to do something they cannot do,’ education minister Maria Van der Hoeven told MPs, refering to small rural schools.
While left-wing parties backed the bill, they warned that the €50 mln the cabinet has set aside to fund the scheme is not enough. ‘Without enough money, this plan is doomed to failure,’ said GreenLeft MP Naïma Azough.
Primary schools have recently been obliged to supervise children during the lunchtime break – something which until now has been left up to parents to organise. The result has been a sharp increase in the cost of lunchtime supervision and teachers have been forced to skip their own lunch breaks and keep an eye on classes because of a shortage of volunteers.

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