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here are obviously strong opinions on the matter, with clear arguments both for and against the move from each group of people affected. To be clear, the change will not result in a reduction in the actual number of days children will have as school holiday during the overall school year, but involves a reallocation of the two weeks from the summer holidays to the October and February half terms.
So, why then has the move caused so much debate?
The educational justification for the change appears to focus around the impact the existing 6 week school holidays have on the levels of education for children. The claim is that standards reduce significantly during prolonged holidays, in particular for children from poorer backgrounds, which subsequently increases the gap in levels between them and children from more affluent families.
In contrast, many teachers argue that they need the existing 6 week break to prepare for the forthcoming school year.
Surprisingly, parents too seem divided on the matter. Many parents will greet the move with relish, having spent many a summer holiday struggling to keep their children entertained, or cared for if they are working. This problem is illustrated further by reports that some will have no choice but to take their children to work with them in the forthcoming strike on 30 November 2019. In contrast, other parents have the firm view that children need the 6 week long holiday to totally relax and unwind from the long school year.
If teachers who believe they need the 6 week break to prepare for the next school year are forced to do so in a shorter 4 week period, will they be unprepared for the new year, thus being less effective in the classroom? Or in contrast, will they prove more prepared and effective following the October and February half terms, which will be increased to 2 weeks?
Are the educationalists right to anticipate that the gap in educational standards will not increase as much with shorter summer holidays? Or could other solutions be put in place, such as finding ways to engage the children and maintain their educational levels at home, such as with some of the numeracy and literacy games suggested in our blog: “Maintaining children’s Maths and English levels during holidays is child’s play”.
Whatever the answer, it can be safely assumed that many councils, educationalists, teachers and parents will be watching with huge interest, and eagerly await future reports on outcomes and the effects on all concerned.
As far as the children are concerned, I personally believe they will take it all in their stride. They will be likely to change their mind with each respective holiday as to whether they like the idea or not, and complain when they return to school in the summer after only 4 weeks, but then relish the longer half terms. The main point for them is likely to be how long it is until they can once again say “School is OUT”!