Bill to make all school holidays in Wales the same

Classroom Parents face higher childcare costs because of conflicting school term dates, Welsh ministers say

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Ministers would gain powers to set the same holiday times for all state schools in Wales under a bill being introduced in the assembly on Tuesday.

The Welsh government says families have child care problems when authorities chose different dates from each other.

The legislation would require councils to co-ordinate term dates but ministers could step in if they failed to agree.

In contrast, plans to allow schools in England to decide their own term dates were also announced this week.

The Education (Wales) Bill also includes measures to reform the General Teaching Council for Wales and ensure more members of the teaching profession are registered.

Making a statement on the legislation, new Education Minister Huw Lewis is appearing before assembly members in his new role for the first time.

It follows last week's shock resignation of his predecessor, Leighton Andrews, following a row over his support for a school in his Rhondda constituency which faced closure under his own surplus places policy.

There is currently no legal duty on councils or governing bodies in Wales to work together on holiday times.

'Autonomy'

In a statement the Welsh government said: "It is believed that the effect of this legislation will be to harmonise school term dates across Wales, with variations occurring only occasionally and where they can be fully justified.

"This should bring savings for families who have been facing additional child care bills as a result of siblings attending different schools which have differing school holidays."

On Monday the UK government announced plans to allow all state schools in England to decide their own term dates, under proposals for more school autonomy.

The Department for Education said terms should be decided by "heads and teachers who know their parents and pupils best".

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