Heads to consider scrapping six-week summer break

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Head teachers are to investigate the benefits of scrapping the six-week summer holidays.

Proposals to spread holidays more evenly through the year were discussed at the NAHT union conference.

Its leader Russell Hobby questioned whether the current 13-week term structure was healthy for staff, arguing changing it could reduce stress and cut holiday prices for families.

But head teachers wanted more evidence of the benefits of such changes.

The government gave academies and free schools in England permission to vary term times earlier this academic year.

This is due to be extended to all state schools next September.

Support from head teachers means schools would be more likely to make changes to term times.

'Ready to drop'

The move also comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove toughened up rules on parents taking their children out of schools at term times for family holidays.

Now this is only allowed in exceptional circumstances with many parents complaining they face high prices for holidays in peak season.

Start Quote

If different parts of the country within local authority boundaries or regional boundaries had slightly different holiday times I think that would ease the pressure on the prices of holidays as well”

End Quote Russell Hobby NAHT

Mr Hobby said: "One of the things that I'm concerned about is whether the current structure of holidays is also healthy for the people who work in schools as well.

"It seems like, at the end of term, everyone is ready to drop and that actually, not reducing the amount of holiday but distributing it more evenly across the year might be one solution to that."

He added: "However, we don't have any particular liking for every school going its own way.

"We would like to see local or regional co-ordination, but at that point you could also have the opportunity to have a staggering of holidays around the country.

"So if different parts of the country within local authority boundaries or regional boundaries had slightly different holiday times I think that would ease the pressure on the prices of holidays as well."

He said the change would take away some of the excuses that both parents and teachers made about missing school days.

Admissions queues

Mr Hobby was talking at his association's annual conference in Birmingham, where an "education manifesto" of proposals for the next General Election was adopted.

A draft version said: "We propose more frequent, shorter holidays (adding up to the same overall number), staggered across the country on a regional basis to reduce the holiday price premium."

But this will now be qualified by a proper study into the benefits of the changes and the impact on children's learning.

The document also calls for disadvantaged pupils to be allowed to jump school admissions queues. Under the plans they would be given priority over other potential pupils by virtue of being on a very low income or benefits.

If adopted by political parties it could lead to a major change in school admissions and may radically alter the character of some schools.

Start Quote

All school places should be allocated in a fair and transparent way”

End Quote Department for Education

The thinking behind it is that presently many disadvantaged families are effectively priced out of the catchment areas of good schools by high house prices. This means it is harder for poorer children to attend the better schools.

Mr Hobby says: "Looked-after children currently get priority in admissions.

"What if we extended this right to all children on free school meals, who could automatically go to the head of the admissions queue for any school their parents chose?

"At a stroke, this would limit the house price barrier to good schools and secure more firmly the comprehensive principle of education."

The NAHT resolved to carry out an impact assessment of the policy before presenting the arguments before the main political parties.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "More parents and children have the choice of a good school place thanks to our reforms - the number of children in failing secondary schools has fallen by a quarter of a million since 2010.

"Academies and free schools can already give priority to those children eligible for the pupil premium while maintained schools are able to apply to the secretary of state to do the same.

"The new admissions code is clear that all school places should be allocated in a fair and transparent way."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    I have to work ridiculously long hours in FE, earn less than the national average salary (as I haven't had a pay rise for over three years), despite being very highly qualified. I spend most of the time stressed up to the eyeballs and hardly get to see my kids in the week.

    I can't understand why so many contributors seem to be so jealous of me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    473 hope

    "Teaching is wider than the hours spent face to face with children and students."


    Teaching is a profession and a vocation. If you can't stand the heat then look again at your excellent terms and conditions and holidays again.

    Understand that other professions such as nurses working shifts can only dream of your working day and fully paid long holiday breaks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.


    There are a couple of recent inventions that are beginning to catch on, one of them is the so-called 'personal computer' sometimes abbreviated to PC, the other is the 'internet'. Both of these inventions allow work that could be done at anytime to be done from home, this allows people to go home, find a parking space and continue working, even all day Saturday and Sunday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    470 - Information Overload: Teachers can't strike over class sizes, as it would be illegal for them to do so. The only thing that people are legally allowed to strike over is pay and conditions.

    Maybe, as the general, voting population, we should help teachers by lobbying the government for smaller classes; these are our children and future afterall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    I can't for the life of me imagine teaching an over stuffed classroom of your little kiddies...the darlings! Then answering to the parents who think that judging the teacher shows their concern/participation in the life of their brat. Lets not forget the gov't, who use education like a ping pong ball. TEACHERS ARE NOT PAID FOR HOLIDAYS, THEY BUDGET FOR HOLIDAYS THEY HAVE TO TAKE WHEN TOLD !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.


  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    I take it that Polly isn't a teacher! Teaching is wider than the hours spent face to face with children and students. It is demanding and involves time spent planning, marking and analysing data outside of the school day. Education and childcare have had the lines blurred. Children need time with their family. The summer break is too long and shorter terms more preferable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.


    Most are probably parents who look at their child's lack of homework and assume its because teachers can't be bothered to set or mark it.

    I live next to two teachers with limited parking opportunities. Guess who gets home first after work (every bleedin' day)? Yep, those 'workaholic' teachers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    Shortening the 6 week holiday will increase demand in the hottest period when most will want to have a holiday and possibly force prices up. Going abroad at other times of year will be difficult for those who have children in different local authorities or teachers with children who may have different holidays. The current situation is not ideal, but I don't think this will solve the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    The only thing teachers should strike about is large class sizes. Numbers of which would be unacceptable in most European or other advanced countries.

    Pay and pensions is one thing, but not standing up for pupils' class sizes is clearly not on the agenda, which is shameful .

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    We want most of our holidays when the weather's nice, don't we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    Rather an amateur idea. The holiday companies would just hitch up prices in those weeks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    Just a reminder to all teachers on here making bigotted comments against parents.
    You are trained to EDUCATE (as someone reminded us earlier) not to parent children. Or let me guess - all teachers are good parents.
    Education is important for society, but my children are more than just having the ability to do sums. You just want to tick the boxes, like doctors, and be important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    Nine to five is a thing of the past, but teachers have yet to start such long days. We all do extra work, we all take work home, deal with email on our days off and on holiday etc. Why do teachers think they are special?

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.


    If you feel uneasy about your child going to school on Tuesday there is a simple solution.

    Visit the school not just for half an hour Arrange to spend the day there & interact with the staff.

    Offer to organise outdoor events

    Don't sit there on your backside carping & complaining as to what the school can do for my child but the reverse

    Become a responsible parent

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    I taught in the UK for many years and hated the holiday system as a parent and a staff member. Students just got into a term when half term arrived and we had to start all over again. summer term was a waste of time with public holidays & exams. I now work in New Zealand and while the system isnt perfect, we have 4 terms which could be more even,but is miles better than the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    I agree the summer holidays are far too long and need to be spread out. My children get NINE weeks off for summer as we live in Northern Ireland. This is very difficult for working parents. I wish we had only six weeks to deal with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    I'm sure this policy change may be applicable for primary school when there are less strains on students, but at secondary school and college level shortening the summer break would add to the stresses of the exams etc. in the education system, as nowadays students above 14 are set vast amounts of work over Christmas, Easter and half-terms which would only be greater if those holidays were longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    For all the teachers whinging on about long hours, poor pay and pension, if it is as bad as you make out why not leave the "profession" and join others who genuinely do work long hours for poor pay and pension?

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    Many of those who've commented here seem to think that having been school pupils at one point makes them qualified to pass judgment on teachers and their workload. Funny that! I've been a hospital patient a few times and I've also visited the GP surgery on numerous occasions, but I'm no doctor!


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