OK, so if *you* were in charge of school holidays, what would you do . . .

(153 Posts)
Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 09:49:55

My plan if I were dictator for life Education Secretary:

1) Give all dc an extra 3 weeks of holiday, 2 of them at the start of the summer hols (ie break up start July),

2) The other extra week goes to break up the long autumn term, so a longer (say 10 days) half term early-mid oct, then a long weekend with 2 days hols end november.

3) Sorry, teachers, but then all school have to offer 3 x 1 week summer camp in the long summer holidays.

4) These are optional, so if parents want their dc can have the full 8 weeks. The weeks are mainly extension activities like you get at the end of term. So eg primaries might do a sports week, a storytelling/drama week, a craft week. Secondaries might offer some academic options (eg study skills week for those going into 6th form, catch up maths etc), and some fun stuff again like end of term weeks.

I'm sure there's all sorts of problems with this (!) but I reckon (a) working parents don't have any longer childcare to arrange, and (b) it would break up the summer holidays for those that need without getting rid of the option of a long break for those that it suits.

Obviously it is more work for teachers, particularly in the first few years but I guess the pay-off is that you'd probably only have about half the dc there (maybe less in some schools? I suspect few would do all 3 weeks) and it would give a bit of 'time off' from the curriculum to do fun stuff.

What would you all do? (Especially if you are a teacher grin )

my2bundles Wed 31-Jul-13 10:04:30

For the sake of my individual childrens needs. My youngest needs no more than 4 weeks summer holiday, 2 weeks to go away and 2 weeks to play. We are only part way thro week 2 and already he is ready to be back in school. My eldest needs 2 weeks as she is at the lower end of the autistic spexctrum and needs the routime of school. The extra 2 weeks for my youn gest should be added onto the halfterms, not sure about my eldest, she finds school hols difficult to cope with.

NotAnotherPackedLunch Wed 31-Jul-13 10:08:38

I like the idea.
Would it also mean that all the faffing around and wasting time for the last week or two of term could be moved into the three weeks of optional activity weeks?

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:19:37

That was my thought, notanotherpackedlunch - it would make the relaxed fun weeks optional, IYSWIM. Hopefully it would also cut down termtime holidays as there'd be a longer timeframe for legit hols.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:20:33

Agree it wouldn't help children that need routine though. DD loves organised but different stuff (she's doing a drama week through a local club) so it would suit her.

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 31-Jul-13 10:23:17

I'd give them an extra week at Christmas. Two days at the start and five at the end, IMO kids go back as knackered as they finished because Christmas is a very busy holiday.

I'd give them ten days in October and dr Easter to ten days instead of two weeks.

Sounds like a great idea- would be nice to be able to sign up flexibly for last two weeks - eg can do sports day but leave the music day if your child likes one not the other. It also means that one dc could have a fun day off one day with you and another dc another day. Nightmare to organise for the staff though who can't even give more than a week notice for class assembly -not knowing who would turn up.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:32:56

Good point about organisation - I was thinking of it more like a summer camp where you'd sign your dc up in advance for the week?

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 31-Jul-13 10:36:33

Teacher here.

Sounds alright to me. I like the idea of the fun stuff. However you'd need to make sure all schools did this, otherwise it would be a nightmare for those with children in different schools, or teachers with childen in different schools.

Bear in mind that teachers are paid for a certain number of days per year, so if you want them to work more then their pay would have to go up.

Newcupboards Wed 31-Jul-13 10:37:43

I think it's ridiculous that school buildings are left empty whilst some parents struggle to cover childcare or find enough activities to keep kids occupied.

If I were Education Secretary I would make (and provide some funding for) schools to turn into Summer Clubs during the holidays. They could be run by a rota of teachers, students teachers, TAs, parents.

I love having DD home for 6 weeks but I don't have to worry about childcare. I'd bung her in the School Club for a day or so a week though, if she wanted to go.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:40:15

YY to it happening at the same time in all schools. The plan would be that you wouldn't gain any more days work, IYSWIM - the weeks 'camp' would be balanced out by extra hols.

Agree with Newcupboards that in any event it would be great to have summer clubs run within the schools in the hols (not by teachers in that case). I'm self employed so can work round holidays, but it would be great to have the option of 1/2 days a week suitable activity for a child too old for cm but bored at home alone

my2bundles Wed 31-Jul-13 10:42:24

newcupboards, schools building are not left empty, some are hired out to sports clubs and summer play shemes. They also need some time to close so deep cleaning and maintenance can take place which cannot be done whilst pupils are in school. Also school caretakers also need to take their holidays as most are not allowed to take leave during term time.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 10:53:58

I think the huge summer break is a bad idea.

I think that it is too long a break for smaller kids as they forget so much. I also think that too much time is spent doing end of term stuff at the end of the summer, so that children basically spend the last two weeks not really learning very much. The start back in the Autumn term is then a real strain on both teachers & children as they all try to get back in gear again.

The summer holidays are also a nightmare for working parents who have 6/7 weeks of childcare to pay for all at one time of the year.

So, I would like to see 4 longer but equal length breaks during the year & forget half terms.

During the breaks, local schools would have a rota system for being used, as I appreciate that the holidays need to be used for refurbishment. External, approved kid camp operators would use the school facilities for camps. There should be a variety of these, so you have sports camps, music camps, techy/IT camps and craft camps.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 10:56:00

Sorry, not clear what I mean.

I would like to see 4 breaks during the year of about 3/4 weeks duration - so that you get the same amount of time off but it is more equally split in terms of duration and through out the year.

mystaplerisevil Wed 31-Jul-13 11:04:01

i used to work in a summer club in a school , council cut it though! blame lack of subsidised schemes on the cuts!

I think people always forget how much fun they had during the long school hols as children, they need to the time to just be kids, not forced by the national curriculum to learn what the government deems important.

the lack of holiday care is one thing that the local cuts really have affected here it's such a shame sad

GrimmaTheNome Wed 31-Jul-13 11:08:37

My 14yo DD has said she'd actually like two weeks less in summer - just time for a weeks slobbing around reading , a couple of weeks holiday and a week at an activity camp. She'd then like an extra week at xmas and an extra week added to the May halfterm (ie into June) - that's when the weather is often nice in the UK.

But she could see that everyone having just 4 weeks at the same time would make the situation re holiday pricing/availability even worse.

I quite like the sound of your idea, Takver, but it might be a bit long off proper schoolwork. Summer camps held on school premises are a great idea anyway - DDs primary (private) did a really good holiday club - it was actually run by two former teachers from the school, who specialised in PE and Art so there was a good mix of activities. Probably better if teachers aren't expected to do it as part of their regular duties - some might like to do it if they were paid extra for it and they had a particular enthusiasm.

Problem presumably is cost - the camps would have to be free for FSM pupils and subsidised for others I'd have thought. The greatest need is in the poorest areas.

SuffolkNWhat Wed 31-Jul-13 11:11:36

I am a teacher and support the six term or more equal holiday idea.

2 weeks in Oct, 2 weeks for Christmas, 1-2 weeks in Feb, 2 weeks for Easter, 2 weeks in May, 3-4 weeks in summer.

CockyFox Wed 31-Jul-13 11:24:53

I love the big holidays, I loved them as a child and love them now. I don't think making them longer is a good idea though and both my DCs would hate holiday clubs or optional extra fun weeks. My youngest doesn't start until September but my eldest certainly hates the last week of term - he loves school but doesn't want to sit in a classroom watching a film or having directed fun, he likes to invent his own games and have freedom to swap and change between them frequently.

I honestly think the holidays are just right for us as I am at home but I can't imagine they are lots of fun for children having a few days here a few days there.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 11:25:02

I guess what puts me off the longer holidays at other times is that we live in the countryside so there isn't much to do with dc when the weather is bad. Summer is relatively easy for us.

PrettyBelle Wed 31-Jul-13 12:03:22

Speaking of schools having to run holiday clubs in those extra three weeks - I am assuming they won't be free though? I have two school aged chidlren and work full-time, so during holidays they go to SCL which charge £23 per child for the extended day. It is really cheap but - multiply it by 2 DC and then by 5 days a week and we are looking at extra £200+ to spend PER WEEK.

So unless those extra 3 weeks come with three childcare - sorry, I'd rather my DC went to school where they have enough fun activities.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 12:14:35

I was assuming that they would be free - as they would basically be school weeks moved to the holidays IYSWIM.

GW297 Wed 31-Jul-13 12:19:15

Independent schools have 8 week summer holidays, 2 week October half terms and often 3 weeks+ at Easter already.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 12:26:35

Its actually that which made me think about it, GW297 - we live in a holiday town, and from early July we see all the private school families with dc on holiday while ours have 2 weeks + more at school.

Helpyourself Wed 31-Jul-13 12:35:15

What you describe is pretty much what Private Schools do holiday-wise. And the parents send them to holiday camps/ craft camps/sports daycamp and when they're older arrange work experience and internships.

GW297 Wed 31-Jul-13 14:18:34

Independent schools do longer school days as they tend to start earlier and finish later than state schools though.

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