Anger at arbitrary school closures


To Be Honest:A parent writes

Just before Christmas, in the last week of term, I got a note from the school to say that my daughter should to be picked up at noon on the last day of term, instead of the usual time of 2pm.

Last Monday, when they returned to school, I was informed by another parent that the children were to be picked up at noon again. This threw me into a tizzy because I had arranged for her to be collected at the usual time.

My daughter is in junior infants. I’m new to the business of having a school-age child, but when I asked my colleague in work about this practice she said that all the schools do it and that they always have.

I asked why and she said that in 10 years of dealing with the primary school system she has never been offered an adequate explanation for why some schools shave up to two hours off the working day on either side of every holiday.

Some schools, apparently, say these half days are to facilitate staff meetings.

But could these not be held after school say from 3pm-4pm?

From my point of view, the change in schedule posed significant difficulty.

I leave work at 2pm and I have an arrangement with my sister who collects my child and holds on to her for an hour until I can come and collect him from her house.

She works in the mornings too but leaves earlier and was unable to change her schedule today or last month. I had to take time off work before Christmas to collect her.

However, last Monday that wasn’t possible and I had to call upon my mother to drive up from Wicklow to collect my daughter as I couldn’t get out of work on time.

What is the meaning of this arbitrary half day?

I know that teachers are not babysitters, but we all have to work to a schedule and it’s very difficult to plan around a timetable that can change like that.

I am not a teacher basher. I know they work hard and I’m not one of those who thinks teachers should work around the clock, but I do think a bit of consistency is not too much to ask.

We are all working people, teachers and parents alike. Surely they can see that consistency of timetabling is the only way that many working parents can keep the whole show on the road?

It’s really stressful when curve balls like these are thrown. When I was told about the noon closing, I spent the morning fretting about how to resolve this. Is that really necessary?

I believe that this practise is a hangover from the days when mothers were at home and could make themselves available at any time. Ireland has changed. This practice is out of step with reality and should be addressed as part of the next round of Croke Park negotiations.

* This column is designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously. Contributions are welcome. Email

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