According to research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, pupils as young as four years old are spending 10 hours a day in school, turning them into “ghost” children who don’t socialise with anyone, lag behind and can barely stay awake.
Teachers have warned that family life in the UK is being damaged by the pressures of modern life, with parents forced to abandon time with their children for work or other priorities.
The lengthy hours at work for parents means that children are regularly either in school or after-school care from 8am to 6pm.
Some UK children are forced to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at school or an after-school club as modern life takes its toll on quality family time and the work-leisure balance is thrown off-kilter.
The survey asked 1,300 staff about their ideal school day and found that most teachers thought children should start school at the age of four, with a five hour primary school day and a six hour secondary school day.
Over of the school staff questioned (56%) said they thought children spent a lot less time with their families than 20 years ago, with 94% feeling that this is as a result of work.
UK Education minister Liz Truss is in favour of children starting school from the age of two. This is backed by the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Michael Gove is encouraging schools to stay open for 10 hours.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Extending school nursery hours from 8-6 will give more flexibility to parents and enable more of them to use these high quality facilities to ensure their children start learning basic skills, such as number and letter recognition, from a young age. This can have a real and lasting impact on their development and life chances.”