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 699.

    Teachers aren't 'lazy just because they have a lot of holidays. You could argue that they are 'part-time' but lazy? Certainly not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    Please remember that the length of school holidays is so that children can spend time with siblings and parents.

    More than 40 weeks a year spent in school is denying children their childhood.

    As a retired Head Teacher the NAHT have got it wrong here. Teacher stress is not caused by the length of of school terms but by the huge level of constant change and incessant political interference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Oh dear. Private sector contributors have such a chip on their shoulders, don't they? They're so embittered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    690. davemk39

    Ha, as if to prove my point - 'Schools should open 51 weeks'.

    You really love spending time with your kids, Dave, don't you??! Why did you choose to have kids, exactly???!

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    669. Auf Wiedersehen Pet

    'It can't be that had ... my kids are getting taught the same stuff I was (only less of it and less well) .... so the lesson plans must be pretty similar'

    Wow. Your memory of the curriculum, day by day, when you were at school is stunning. Or made up. I think I know which.

    690. davemk39

    I feel sorry for your kids. Such an inconvenience to you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    In response to the idea that other companies don't get as much time off, We need to remember that these are children we are talking about. They are dog tired of learning for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week after a 7 week term, as are the staff. Furthermore, staff deserve to be paid during the holiday because we generally work through them and work 50-60 hours a week normally!

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    Good. It's a about time teachers earn their YEARLY salary rather than lounge about for 10 weeks of the year.

    It's sad that the bone idle students have teachers as role models. Whats even worse is the bone idle students will probably become teachers for an easy life

    It's just a circle of lazyness

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    My main concern was the part about "disadvantaged pupils to be allowed to jump school admissions queues". This will lead to more children being unable to attend their local school if out of catchment children are allowed to queue hop. A ridiculous idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    How about teachers doing a 48 week year first like most of us ? they are not the only ones who have stressfull jobs, although you think they were, always bleating about it. Another option... 6 weeks at Christmas and two weeks in summer ? That would save the country a fortune on heating bills, and also kids would be off the streets during the darkest mornings and evenings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    get schools open for 51 weeks a year. then parents wanting to work don't have to worry about childcare costs, don't have to look for term time only jobs, and become more attractive to employers. big boost to the economy

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    681. shaky
    Haha, again you tell me to man-up? I don't want to be manly thank you.
    Why exactly am I in denial? I have clearly stated facts here, no speculation. You clearly have nothing else productive to say as I have countered your very poor argument. Or is that TOO difficult for you, dear?

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    The education system puts enough pressure on children as it is. Asking them to spend more time in the classroom, as suggested by some, and less time with their families or doing enjoyable extracurricular activities is ridiculous. They are far more likely to learn in school if they also have time to relax and enjoy their childhood.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    One thing is for sure....no one ever says "I want to grow up to be a moderator."

    Couldn't resist...............10, 9, 8, 7...........

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    644. Christoph 

    reduce the length of the summer holidays to 4 weeks …. avoid everyone going on holidays at the same time, a bit like in Germany'

    Just to point out, Germany does stagger holidays but has total more than UK, and school hours are also shorter (all workers there have shorter hours & longer hols.)
    Schools are less stressed, no gov't targets etc. & children don't start so young.

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    3 Minutes ago

    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?

    Anyone care to suggest why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    Teachers are in school and the regular school day is akin to being in a meeting all day where you work but don't get any work done. Just as you have to prepare for a meeting, we need to mark 30 books for each lesson we take. We need to plan, do paperwork, analyse data ... the jobs are endless and this happens OUTSIDE of the school day. Everyone gets tired. Children and teachers need the breaks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    672, Shaky, you should never assume, it makes an ass out of u, I am not a teacher, but the Sales Director of a major PLC, so nice try, but so very wrong. I was just pointing out your inaccuracies, claiming you only got 2 weeks holiday a year, a story which you have now changed once challenged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    Don't know why some parents have kids; they obviously don't like the draining effect that their offspring have on their finances or lifestyle. I don't have kids (chose not to); I just spend my entire career looking after and educating other people's children. And are they grateful? Some are, but most not. They're just after free childcare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    658 niskala your clearly in denial, if you wish to rip the state off carry on, as I have said before most normal people, public or private sector are relatively happy with the 4 weeks holiday. Man up and join the real world, or is that to difficult.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    The worst part about this debate is everyone is blaming everyone else and not asking the question WHY those from working class families are always losing out to the wealthy as to equal educational opportunities.

    Go ask your MP


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