The lack of analytical programs, as well as difficulties in communicating and linking the morning and afternoon sections of an all day school, are some of the main issues faced by the institution of the Optional All-Day School, which met with the Parliamentary Education Committee was yesterday. The goal of all involved is to upgrade, improve and operate the all day school, seen as the institution has been deemed necessary as it serves families and children who really need it.
The institution of the Optional Full-Day School has been embraced, as evidenced by the figures presented to the Education Committee by the Director of Primary Education. According to Christos Hatziathanasiou, this year, more than 7,500 students attend the 195 Optional All-Day Schools that are currently operating (130 Primary, 58 Kindergartens and seven Special Schools – 14 All-Day Schools are also in operation).
As Hatziathanasiou explained, instructions were given to write analytical programmes for lessons which are not available on the Optional All-day Schedule, while at the same time, institutions are trying to figure out the working hours, which will either be until 15:15 or until 16:00 as several parents want to pick up their children earlier in order for them to follow other extracurricular activities. This makes it difficult for the school to function, which, as it has been made clear, should not function as a child-care place but as a place which produces educational and supportive work.
In the context of the debate, the President of the Pancyprian Organisation of Greek Teachers (POED) Filios Fylaktou also addressed the serious health and safety issue of the All Day School, noting that teachers working in the afternoons are working on service contract. Should anything happen during their time at the school, confusion as to what their responsibilities are could be noted. As Fylaktou said, if anything was to happen at the Optional All-Day School, parents will ask for information with regards to who is responsible from the school’s direction, information which they do not have.
There are problems, teachers say
On their behalf, teachers who work on a service contract in the Optional All day Schools and are members of the Pancyprian Association of Teachers of Optional All-Day Schools (PASYPPOS), submitted a letter with their positioning to the Education Committee, citing the problems they face.
The main ones are:
* Change of multiple teachers in a class
* Absence of a head teacher during schooling hours
* No analytical program and school manuals for compulsory English and Computer courses
* Children’s homework is not a priority (teachers are asking for more time for homework, more than the 40 minutes they have at their disposal, as several parents do not speak Greek and cannot help their children with their homework at home)
* Children in Optional All-Day Schools are inactive during the months the schools don’t operate (September and June)
* The employment status of teachers working (uncertainty, non-permanence, delay in payment, etc.)
To solve the above problems, the affected teachers submitted the following suggestions:
* Abolition of the service contracts and the establishment of permanent staff of Optional Full-time Schools
* Appointment of a full-time director/head master
* Support for compulsory courses with analytical programs and manuals
* Prioritise homework
* Expansion of the School period from September to June and interconnection with summer schools
* Extension of working hours until 17:30 and enrichment of program with additional activities or supportive classes
* Grading of teacher services for appointment purposes
Evaluation of institution – What the studies show
According to the Director of Primary Education, All-Day Schools is being evaluated. Specifically, Hatziathanassiou referred to an evaluation conducted by the Pedagogical Institute, as well as an expert survey, the results of which are expected soon. Based on these assessments, the Ministry is prepared to move forward to make these institution work better.
The research of the Pedagogical Institute (July 2017) for Optional All Day Schools noted, among others, the following:
* The main motivation for parents is the combination of working hours, homework assistance and feeding. These institutions mainly serve working parents.
* The motivation for teachers is remuneration, while non-permanent teachers choose to work in these institutions in order to keep in touch with Education.
* Communication problems between teachers in the morning and afternoon slots.
* Absence of evaluation mechanisms for teachers employed on service contracts.
* Provides opportunities for developing children’s social skills, mainly through socialisation.
* Inability to serve learning goals and offer new knowledge.
* The goal of homework assistance is achieved.
* The aim of reducing or eliminating tutorials is not achieved.
* Extending children’s stay at school brings both positive and negative results.
* Problem or lack of analytical programmes and educational material.
For the All-day Schools, among others:
* Two key incentives for parents are convenient hours and the provision of classes of interest.
* The design / redesign of the program seems to have been completed even though improvements are being made.
* Communication within the school environment is achieved.
* Social development of children is strengthened as well as the acquisition of new knowledge.