A PLAN to have children in the classroom for nine hours a day has been described as ‘damaging childhood’.

Parents and teachers in East Lancashire said the proposal from former No 10 policy adviser, Paul Kirby, would destroy family life.

The former aide to David Cameron said schools should have longer days and shorter holidays to provide working parents with free childcare. The scheme is also geared towards competing with Asian countries where children are higher achievers.

Caroline Fotios, co-founder of Blackburn’s Mum’s the Word said the idea was totally unworkable and added: “Particularly when it comes to primary school children, having your child away from you for nine hours is absurd. I can’t think it would be popular with the children either and would probably put them off school.

“It can’t be a good idea to sit in a classroom environment for that long.”

Blackburn and Lancashire’s NUT representative said local teachers were worried the plan would affect a ‘right to childhood’. National executive member Simon Jones said: “Children and young people deserve a childhood. They are not an inconvenience to fit in around work.

“Primary school pupils in particular will find it difficult to stay awake for such long periods.

“Childcare is, of course, an issue for working parents and one which equally affects teachers with children. High quality and affordable childcare would be a much better approach.

“Teachers already work some of the longest hours of any profession with many putting in 50 to 60 hours a week.”

The government has so far distanced itself from the proposal which would see the school day extended to 9am to 6pm.

The Department for Education said many schools had the flexibility to work with parents by offering extended clubs and services or to change their hours..