What's the educational argument for so many holidays?

(1000 Posts)
TinTinsSexySister Tue 19-Feb-13 14:59:53

Just that really.

Are there any educational benefits to frequent school holidays or are they just an historical hangover? Educationally speaking, would we be worse or better off adopting the US system?

Feenie Tue 19-Feb-13 18:44:19

Nope, primary here and never found a problem either - children usually up to speed after a fortnight or so.

NotAnotherPackedLunch Tue 19-Feb-13 18:57:09

Having less than 6 weeks in the summer can cause problems for families who want to go on holiday.
Parents' annual leave often has to be coordinated with colleagues. At least with a six week holiday there are three fortnight periods to be shared between colleagues who all want to go away with their school age children.

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 19:10:57

I think there should be more school and less holiday. This would help with improving academic results

Really? So, just by doing more hours-results will improve? Why not have the whole country working 7am-9pm then. Or even longer. Productivity will be sky high on all industries?!

I wonder if you feel that the school day should be 8-6 as well.

Honestly-some adults who enjoyed and benefitted from their school holidays as children themselves, seem hell bent on having their own children cooped up in a classroom as much as they possibly can...

lljkk Tue 19-Feb-13 20:19:39

In my California education we had 37 not 39 weeks of school/yr (so less than DC have in England now). 198 teaching days, in modern times. That's a day under 36 weeks.

What could make sense could be 46 weeks of teaching days/yr but only 4-5 hours on school/day (and no lunch hour, just a 20 minute play break). Versus 39 weeks of 5-6 hours/day. Maybe that would make it easier for teachers, too, if it was just called the job FT for 52 weeks/yr with 4-6 weeks "holiday".

Even in a yr-round education system in the USA they still only actually go to school for about 36 weeks/yr. Term-time hols aren't controversial, that's true.

rollmopses Tue 19-Feb-13 20:36:24

Utter nonsense - more school and less holidays. I am imagining a 'Computer Says No' type person wishing that.
Children NEED time to be children, play is their work.
They need time to invent their own games, read for hours and hours - for pleasure, not for school. See new places, play by the sea-side, etc ad nauseam, just BE.
Children start formal education way too early, here as it is.
Let children be children, there's lifetime of Mo-Fri drudgery ahead of them, why make it come sooner.

rollmopses Tue 19-Feb-13 20:44:07

Lizzie...., I thank all the gods and deities known to men that you are not teaching my children.
We have nearly 9 week Summer break and it's not long enough.
The teachers, who are the most amazing, wonderful, kind, wise and such fun - agree, children need time to be children.
As for the academic results, top of the league tables, children doing ever so well.

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 20:57:07

EvilTwins - having to organise childcare doesn't come as a surprise, but it is expensive, and having to go to a cheap as possible holiday club for 10 weeks a year is not that much fun for the children either. Not everyone can stay at home to look after their children in all those school hols and inset days, and/or send them on exciting music or sports courses, or residential adventure holidays, or weeks away from home, etc. If you can, then yes that sounds great.
LetsEatGrandma - I do think that the school day should be a bit longer. Private schools often have school days that are an hour or more longer than in state schools. It does allow more time to do that bit better at the academic work, and to do more extracurricular fun stuff too. It also helps parents who need to work to earn money to live on.
I know this is a hot potato, but it is difficult for people who work hard in tough jobs and get 4 or 5 weeks' holiday a year to understand why it is so vital that teachers, who are often better paid and have far better benefits and job security, so badly need 13 weeks a year.

LizzieVereker Tue 19-Feb-13 21:19:02

rollmopses, I completely agree with you and your childrens' teachers, children do need time to be children, and in an ideal world every child would have a refreshing, stimulating long summer break.

However many of the children whom I teach simply don't have that opportunity due to living in one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of the UK. They spend their 6 weeks hanging about, caring for younger siblings, getting into bother, trying to find an aim in life without any guidance from home. No nice trips to the park, or swimming, or the library. No garden to play out in.

They come back to school desperate for the routine and structure. So I think we're talking about children with very different life chances, but I am genuinely glad your children are enjoying and succeeding at both their education and leisure.

I am a bit miffed that you felt the need to invoke EVERY deity to keep me away from them though! hmm. I am "outstanding" according to Mr Gove, dontcha know!

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 21:39:22

Come to think of it, the holiday clubs only take children who are at primary school. So from age 11 they have to spend 10 weeks of the hols on their own at home sad

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 21:44:27

LetsEatGrandma - I do think that the school day should be a bit longer. Private schools often have school days that are an hour or more longer than in state schools. It does allow more time to do that bit better at the academic work, and to do more extracurricular fun stuff too. It also helps parents who need to work to earn money to live on.

Yes-and private schools generally have longer holidays. much smaller class sizes and separate teachers to teach music/languages/PE. If I were to teach an extra hour each day, that would generate another 30 set of books to mark each day and no doubt parents like you would start to object when the books didn't get marked as I already had 90 to mark from the existing school day.

Some people like to pick out all the worst aspects of education from all manner of environments/countries and tout that as being the ideal, eg let's have long days like private schools (but ignore the long holidays, small class sizes and supportive parents). It'll be Saturday morning school like France (but without the Wednesday off) and just one week at Christmas (but ignoring the 8 weeks off in the summer) like some European countries.

papalazaru Tue 19-Feb-13 21:50:03

We're in the US and will move back to the UK this summer and I have to say I am looking forward to the UK schedule of holidays. The 3 month summer holiday is waaaay too long - there is a big knowledge slip and so the first month of school seems to be review to get the kids going again. Where we live the kids start in August and go through to Christmas with only a couple of holiday Mondays and a couple of days for Thanksgiving so by the time we get into December the kids are wrecked and desperately need a break - it's too long. From January to early June we get one week of spring break, with about 3 or 4 long weekends - Easter counts as a long weekend. So again by the end of term everyone is tired out and ready for a holiday.
On the up side we do have fantastic summer camps, sports and activities organised all through the summer break which the kids (and frazzled parents) can take advantage of.
Don't they have a fairer system in Australia with 4 terms which have 2 week breaks in between except for the long summer break?

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 21:56:29

Letseatgrandma - don't know where you got all that from. I really don't like the idea of Saturday school - a big nuisance for families, has anyone said they want it? - and I prefer the idea of more even holidays. The nicest times of year in this country (not too hot or too cold) are spring and Autumn. I'd like to see longer holidays then, and a shorter summer break.
Obviously, any increase in the school day or decrease in holiday will result in huge resistance from the teachers' unions.

Why do so many parents confuse education with child care? That is not the function of schools!

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 22:04:27

Schools are state funded. The state has made it abundently clear that it wants parents to work, so as to keep the burden of supporting children off the state. This is the reason for the set up of pre and after school care, by schools, in recent years. Some of those hours spent formally in school rather than in after school club would be a perfectly sensible thing to do.

LizzieVereker Tue 19-Feb-13 22:06:51

We run Saturday school, the student uptake was very good, so evidently lots of people do want it. It's offered to the students who are on the Pupil Premium register.

The head teacher asked staff who would be prepared to work on Saturdays, no-one was forced to, but there were enough staff willing to enable it to run.

I think what all the above illustrates is that different communities and cohorts have different needs, so perhaps head teachers should be given some autonomy to be flexible, to suit the needs of their school community.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 19-Feb-13 22:12:10

I think a shorter summer break with longer half terms would be a positive change.

A month off in the summer would be ample with less chance for children to slip back and longer half terms would recharge their batteries more.

ReallyTired Tue 19-Feb-13 22:13:35

LetsEatGrandma - I do think that the school day should be a bit longer. Private schools often have school days that are an hour or more longer than in state schools. It does allow more time to do that bit better at the academic work, and to do more extracurricular fun stuff too. It also helps parents who need to work to earn money to live on.

Private schools really have stupidly long holidays. We know someone who has 1 month at Christmas, Easter, half terms and 9 weeks in the summer!
The purpose of school is not childcare. I don't think that the school day should be lengthened. Teachers need time to plan, have meetings and mark work.

There comes a point where parents have to take responsiblity for childcare. There is already help through childcare vouchers and childcare tax credits for those on low incomes. It should not be the responsiblity of the state to foot the cost of providing all year round childcare.

I know children exactly like LizzieVereker describes, but I don't think the answer is extra complusory school. Our town has several adventure playgrounds with free activities put on.

My son did a guitar day organised by county and there were free places for low income families. My son's school offers an amazing range of activites and inspite of the school offering to pay many low income families don't bother. I don't know why.

EvilTwins Tue 19-Feb-13 22:14:08

Private schools may have longer days, but IME (friends teaching in independents) it's not necessarily that they spend more time in lessons. For example, my school has a 50 minute lunch break and finishes at 3. The very famous girls' independent school a friend teaches in has a 2 hour lunch break but finishes school at 4.30.

I find the argument that schools need to be more flexible for the sake of working parents irritating. My own kids have to go to breakfast club and after school club at their primary so that I can get to work on time. I cannot take some of my holiday allowance in order to watch them in their nativity play/class assembly/sports day. It's swings and roundabouts, isn't it. School is not Childcare.

LeeCoakley Tue 19-Feb-13 22:18:46

6 weeks isn't long enough! I loved the summer holidays as a child and my children love them as well. Childhood shouldn't be schooling with a few holidays grudgingly thrown in, it should be about having fun but with a few weeks every now and then when you have to knuckle down and go to school. So what if children forget things after a break? They soon pick it up. No biggie. And as someone else said, we all had long holidays, why begrudge our children having them?

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 22:24:20

LeeCoakley - this all sounds very nice in a Steiner kind of way. But 1) most children's parents have to work these days, so can't look after their children during very long school holidays, 2) if children spent most of their childhoods playing, there might be a bit of an issue with them being able to cope with university and jobs later on. The UK would be right at the bottom of the international education tables.
In any event, in my experience most children like school. Primary school in the Uk is very fun based.

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 22:27:55

2) if children spent most of their childhoods playing, there might be a bit of an issue with them being able to cope with university and jobs later on.

Did your summer holidays render you incapable of holding down a job, Dromedary?

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:24

Letseatgrandma - I was responding to what LeeCoakley said about 6 weeks not being long enough and that childhood should be mainly holidays, with a few weeks of schooling every now and then. Do you agree with LeeCoakley's suggestion then?

EvilTwins Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:54

if children spent most of their childhoods playing, there might be a bit of an issue with them being able to cope with university and jobs later on

Sorry, but that's about the worst argument for spending more time in school that I've ever seen.

Children playing? shock shock The very thought of it!

ledkr Tue 19-Feb-13 22:33:39

Oh I love the school holidays and I work part time.
Especially the summer. That feeling when they finish on the last day is amazing. We got a little camper and go off for weeks. It's so lovely to spend time together.
id be really upset if they changed them.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 19-Feb-13 22:33:58

I agree that holidays from school are important, but I think that they should be spaced a little more evenly throughout the year.

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