Length of School Holidays

(42 Posts)
gazzalw Tue 02-Jul-13 06:23:34

DS was asking why one of his friends, who is at a prep school, has much longer holidays than he has. Not sure I know why historically this is the case. Can anyone help? When we started to think about it, it seems ridiculous that the LEAs make such a huge issue of missed schooling, when those children educated in the private sector are already weeks down in terms of hours/days/weeks put in per year....

Anthracite Tue 02-Jul-13 06:26:27

When my boys were at prep school, their school day ended at 5.30pm, so that must be worth a few extra days of term time.

Prawntoast Tue 02-Jul-13 06:36:23

Generally longer days, my DD starts at 8.30, finishes at 4, most of the state senior schools around here start at 9 and finish at 3.30. The extra 5 hours per week makes around 24 additional days over the year (assuming a 7 hour day and 34 weeks that she is in school), so it evens itself out.

claraschu Tue 02-Jul-13 06:43:00

You have to pay through the nose to get good holidays.

It's not the number of days you spend in school that makes a difference; it's what you are doing when you are there. Private schools have slightly longer hours (not always as much as described above, and the extra time will be spent on sport and music which are sidelined is state schools), smaller classes, and the kids have to work much harder (in my experience).

Maybe it's because a lot of rich people used to send kids away to board, and they wanted to see them occasionally (just not all year).

I think that school schedules are so parents can work; a lot of what schools do is actually babysitting. You can cover the schoolwork in a fraction of the time, as many HEers discover.

The stuff about not missing school is rubbish in my opinion, as children learn much faster with 1:1 attention. Taking kids out of school can be hugely educational, if you are doing interesting and challenging things together. Not all parents are educating their kids when they take them out of school, of course, and most importantly (to the school) governments pay schools based on children's attendance.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Tue 02-Jul-13 06:43:36

State school near here starts 8.50 finishes at 2.50, DC prep starts 8.20 finishes at 4.

Bowlersarm Tue 02-Jul-13 06:49:04

Much longer school days. And at private secondary, Saturday school (normally) as well.

Prawntoast Tue 02-Jul-13 06:51:27

clara, you are right about the 121 time, private schools generally have smaller classes and the ability ranges are pretty narrow (I know they set in state schools but due to class sizes the range of ability is usually wider) so the pupils can get through the work quicker, in quite a few subjects my DD has been working on next years syllabus.
Sport and Music is very much part of the curriculum but many of the activities take place after school, clubs usually finish about 5.30. The hours she does make it practical to work, sometimes a challenge filling the holidays but easier now she is older.

CaptainSweatPants Tue 02-Jul-13 06:55:19

Many boarders come from overseas so they need to to home for a month at Xmas, Easter & longer in the summer

They dont have half terms

They attend school Saturday mornings & often have sport fixtures Saturday afternoons

Chopchopbusybusy Tue 02-Jul-13 06:58:22

The main Issue with taking children out in term time is that they miss work others are doing and then have to try to catch up.

Bowlersarm Tue 02-Jul-13 06:59:04

CaptainSweatPants ours have always had half terms. Normally a week, but two weeks in October half term.

Prawntoast Tue 02-Jul-13 07:05:54

Half terms here as well and no Saturday school just sports fixtures instead.
It's a good point about overseas boarders needing longer periods away but I think for most schools it's historic or they are just generally fitting in with what other schools do, my DD's school has been around for centuries but never taken boarders but still manages 18 weeks holiday.

Chopchop, I agree the catching up must be a problem, but for the teachers as well if they have a number of pupils off and are trying to help them catch up.

englishteacher78 Tue 02-Jul-13 07:15:42

Having fixtures on Saturdays is really helpful - not all schools do that. It can be quite disruptive if you have a half sporty class. Trying to get them caught up can be a nightmare. But yes, most private/independent schools have longer days. Not all of them though, the two private schools near my state school have similar hours to us but longer holidays (we share contract buses). Not sure how they justify that one.
I do find it strange how many secondary schools manage with shorter days than our 8:50-3:40. How do they fit everything in?

sweetkitty Tue 02-Jul-13 07:20:02

I have an idea that state schools should be 9-5pm, the last 2 hours should be a mixture of homework
Clubs and sports/music drama.

This would help working parents and also parents rushing children to clubs etc after school and trying to fit homework in too.

Of course it's never going to happen for one reason, cost.

TwasBrillig Tue 02-Jul-13 07:20:26

Shorter lunch break? Just a morning break, no afternoon break. Short registration and not assemblies every day.

I'd love my children to go private, and the extra sport and music on site would be a draw but we really can't afford it.

claraschu Tue 02-Jul-13 07:20:55

Our boys private school has a day which is 1 hour longer than the state school, and no Saturday school. Their lunch times much longer (90-100 minutes in secondary) and they have 6 games lessons rather than 2, and 2 music lessons (primary), rather than none (sometimes 1). They don't spend as many hours on literacy and numeracy as they did in state school, and they have far fewer days in school. For various reasons the school teaches them better in fewer hours. There are also plenty of problems with the private schools I know, so I am not saying that all is rosy. I am just saying that more hours doesn't equal more learning of English and maths. By the way, I also thing sport and music are AT LEAST as important as more "academic" subjects.

Catching up is a bit of a myth in a state primary. If you are doing lots of educational things with your children they will be way ahead anyway. Because of our work, I have taken my (primary aged) children out of school for many weeks on and off over the years (listed as educating off site), and they have never had to "catch up". I am not slavishly following the curriculum, just lots of reading, travelling and chatting about what we do, and occasionally doing some maths.

TwasBrillig Tue 02-Jul-13 07:22:04

Sweet kitty they thought of making the day longer but it would just have been extra lessons or after school staff. I'm like you, wouldn't object if it was actual proper sports, music, drama provision. But there's no way schools could afford that. :-(

claraschu Tue 02-Jul-13 07:23:26

Brillig- private schools have very long lunch breaks in secondary (ours are 90'), to accommodate clubs.

englishteacher78 Tue 02-Jul-13 07:29:17

Wow! 90 minute lunches we only have 50 minutes now. And no afternoon break. With 20 minutes in the morning.

TwasBrillig Tue 02-Jul-13 07:30:05

Yup, I was responding to the question of how some state schools manage a shorter day -hence shorter lunch breaks etc. The school I taught in was under an hour and they had pe clubs then . . . So children had to wolf down a sandwhich at the end!

TheFallenMadonna Tue 02-Jul-13 07:33:48

We have half an hour lunch. It's too short.

RustyBear Tue 02-Jul-13 07:36:39

"most importantly (to the school) governments pay schools based on children's attendance."

No they don't, they pay based on children on roll.

englishteacher78 Tue 02-Jul-13 07:44:13

I asked the question about shorter days. We don't have long lunch, don't have afternoon break. How many hours of teaching do these schools that finish before 3 do every day.

scaevola Tue 02-Jul-13 07:51:54

State schools have the number of days (give or take a Royal Wedding and a polling day) set in law (190 pupils, 195 teachers). No such law for private schools - though I think there's a good practice thingie that means there is a de facto minimum length (anyone? About 165?).

They could of course have longer terms if they felt like it. And some have term structures that are completely out of step with others (eg Hill House 4 term model).

What they do and teach, length of teaching day, length of school day, Saturday school etc vary enormously between schools.

Parents choose the schools because they think their DC will fit well there, and the educational attainment reaches what they want for them.

It's not a case of 'how long they're there for' but 'what they do whilst they are there'

TwasBrillig Tue 02-Jul-13 08:20:49

English, the one I taught in had 5 one hour lessons. It started 8,20 for 8.30, and I think finished 3.15.

TwasBrillig Tue 02-Jul-13 08:23:32

Ours was similar to your, English, just starting and finishing a bit earlier.

Private schools have the extra pe, breaks etc. Not sure how a state school does it in less unless they cut assemblies down or breaks.

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