Government plans for extended school hours will improve the welfare of many children, say health visitors and school nurses.
The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) is backing controversial plans by Education Secretary, Charles Clarke for all 20,000 primary schools in England and Wales to adopt the ten-hour day.
The CPHVA, which represents the majority of the UK’s 2,500-school nurse workforce, believes that breakfast clubs benefit children in terms of health and educational attainment, as many go to school without breakfast.
Pat Jackson, the CPHVA’s Professional Officer for School Health and Public Health said: ‘Today, too many children have a sedentary lifestyle. Under this new scheme, children will have access to a range of activities, which will combat obesity. Children will also benefit by socialising with other children.’
Ms Jackson said: ‘Many schools will provide facilities for the wider community and will give parents, especially those on low incomes, the ability to take up full-time employment.’
However, Ms Jackson warned that there were downsides to the government’s proposals.
‘There is no blueprint or criteria for what an extended school should be like, and some schools in deprived areas may not be able to attract the necessary staff or have the facilities that schools in more affluent areas have.’
Ms Jackson said that the ambitious plans will cost money. However, she added: ‘As a society, we need to invest more in ‘prevention’, instead of waiting for things to go wrong. ‘Extended’ schools have been proven to reduce inequalities.’
nurses to meet the needs of the school age population. The CPHVA is also backing the call for one school nurse for every secondary school and its cluster of primary schools.