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 )

Runningchick123 Wed 31-Jul-13 14:26:09

Most private schools have 7 or 8 weeks summer holidays and 2 weeks in October and usually 2 weeks in May as well as 2 weeks at easter and christmas which I think breaks up the year nicely. State schools should consider following this pattern but you would get complaints about the cost of childcare and the cost of feeding children during the extra holidays (for people whose children get free school meals).
Looking at the private schools in my local area they all have 4 weeks more holidays than the state schools each year yet they still get much better exam results. The private schools do average an extra half hour of teaching time each day, but its worth trading that for extra holidays in my opinion.
I do think that some children with learning disabilities would benefit from shorter holidays though due to the struggles that they have with the change in routine and the need for continuity.

DadOnIce Wed 31-Jul-13 14:32:32

Who would work in the summer clubs? Would they be staffed by teachers and TAs? If so, extra funding for the extra hours would need to be taken into account.

This also applies to any proposal anyone might suggest on here which involves a reduction of the holidays (and hence an increase in term days). Even one day more of term is 7-10 extra employee days to fund just for a small primary school. Multiply that by several thousand up and down the country.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 14:35:00

DadonIce - my suggestion is that the summer club weeks are matched exactly by extending the holidays. So no difference in hours worked.

DadOnIce Wed 31-Jul-13 14:38:54

OK, but it will also mean that teachers have even less flexibility in choosing their holiday times. Most teachers (I imagine) are parents too!

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 14:41:18

DadOnIce, round my way summer clubs are staffed by a wide mixture of people; students, teachers & TAs, sports coaches etc. I would imagine that the summer clubs would be fee paying - with vouchers being available in a similar way for those on paid for school lunches.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 14:42:50

DadOnIce - I guess it would be the same as splitting the terms & having more shorter holidays (obviously teachers would probably then need to use the 'summer camp' weeks).

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 14:44:07

DadOnIce - all parents are stuffed in terms of flexibility, not just teachers. Those who work are even more stuffed. I get 25 days a year that I have to take in school holidays!!!!!!

soverylucky Wed 31-Jul-13 14:45:57

I would have 5 weeks off in the summer and move the extra week to the Christmas holidays.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 14:48:36

Now the one holiday that I wouldn't want longer is Christmas. I'd much rather have 1 week before Christmas (we usually break up here around the 23rd) to enjoy the lead-up time, and 1 week after, going back on the 2nd when everyone goes back to work. I find that final week very slow especially in bad weather.

DadOnIce Wed 31-Jul-13 14:49:20

Well, in theory (until the recent clampdown from the OberGovenFuehrer) a lot of parents in other jobs have always had flexibility to take children out of school in term-time for cheaper holidays. Kids whose parents are teachers don't have that option. Just saying!

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 15:00:01

Hmmm, I've never taken my kids out during term time, as I value their education and want them to as well.

If we are just saying what we personally want, then I'd like to see children at school for 47 weeks of the year but just make school a far broader educational experience. Schools would only be closed for one week a year over Christmas & New Year but children could be taken out at any time for up to 5 weeks for their holidays.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 15:03:32

I definitely wouldn't be keen on that one, Bugsy. I like to have more time to do stuff with dd that I think is valuable, but that school can't really provide.

Rufus43 Wed 31-Jul-13 15:04:38

I would let the schools choose a floating holiday week within the term ( just one a year) to try and enable cheaper holidays

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 15:14:54

Takver, its only my personal dream because I work full-time.

I'd love to see a broader education, with gardening, DIY, household financial planning, cooking, needlework, pet care, car maintenance, map reading, outdoor survival all included as core subjects.

I'd also like to see much more opportunities given to play musical instruments and do a wider range of sports such as ballet, dance, gymnastics, fencing, etc. Not just football, netball & rounders.

I think that if more kids spent more time at school & the curriculum were much broader that it would even out life chances much more.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 16:46:50

I'd definitely agree with the broader curriculum smile

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 31-Jul-13 16:57:32

PostBellumBugsy Completely agree!

ivykaty44 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:02:36

ilike the op's suggestion of the last two weeks of summer term being optional and would add that could be for staff and pupils

jellycake Wed 31-Jul-13 17:09:34

People seem to be forgetting that teachers have children too!
Don't like Bugsy's idea at all. Teachers wouldn't be allowed leave for up to 5 weeks to take their children on holiday! I agree that 4 weeks in the summer is more than ample and would like to see the rest of the holidays more equally distributed especially as the autumn term has been/ is going to be horrendously long, two weeks at the end of October and an extra week at Xmas would be great.

minderjinx Wed 31-Jul-13 17:18:04

I wouldn't want more time off in the winter months (or even spring or autumn). Heating the house all day for extra weeks would work out very expensive for working parents who usually turn off the heating during the day. I'd like to see the summer break longer, and it might help to spread the demand for holidays and hopefully reduce peak prices a bit. Shortening the summer break would of course have the opposite effect.

Incidentally, we had two months off in the summer as children and really enjoyed it. I don't really understand children (special needs excepted) who struggle to entertain themselves or each other and would rather be at school.

I do sympathise with the logistical problems of arranging childcare or other supervision for children in the breaks, but suspect it would be easier in general to get help for say 4 weeks in the summer than odd weeks throughout the year.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 17:22:24

I'd say it goes both ways, minderjinx. DH & I are self employed - half terms are easy in that anything non-urgent can slip for a while, but by the end of 6 weeks everything has become urgent . . .

We get round it with a week's activity in the middle, and are lucky in that there is something that DD likes doing available locally which only costs £25 for the week, I'm sure if you are in London for example that kind of activity is a lot more than 25 quid grin

minderjinx Wed 31-Jul-13 17:35:05

Takver = Yes I can see that too. I suppose the trouble is that one way or another everyone has worked things out to fit the status quo, so any change will probably mess up as many families as it helps!

My own children go to schools in different LA areas, so I do have firsthand experience of school holidays which are often out of sync and it is a pain. So I'd like to see school holidays aligned nationally, rather than going in the opposite direction and letting individual schools decide.

dangly131 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:55:39

I would enjoy doing a summer camp with the children, I enjoy spending time and really getting to know them better and having fun with them. However you do need to take into consideration that some teachers have responsibilities out of school hours - not just their own children but elderly parents, pets, volunteering, clubs they run such as brownies, musical tuition, dance classes, acting classes and hobbies which would all have to be put on hold for the weeks that these run.

I work in a school, and we run a 4 week Summer School programme.
It is a logistical nightmare, because the summer holiday is when the deep cleaning, repainting and essential maintenance is done. This year, we are also having some (much needed) building work done, new toilets added, and moving around classrooms to suit our new curriculum.
This means that our summer school set up is really restricted, as there is wet paint everywhere, the kids are having to use the staff toilets and the contractors are having to be extra vigilant, when really they just want to get on and do their work.

So, obviously it would make no difference to me as I work through much of the holiday anyway, but when would all of this additional maintenance and cleaning be done and when would the site staff and cleaners take their hols?
smile

VileWoman Wed 31-Jul-13 18:14:15

some teachers have responsibilities out of school hours

Just like the rest of us then. I hate to say it but all employers don't really care what you do outside the hours you are suppose to be working (as long as it's legal), and teachers can't claim hobbies are more important than their job, any more than anyone who is expected to work 48 weeks of the year. If you have caring responsibilities then surely they last all year round so unless you are giving up work altogether you must be balancing them against work most of the time.

HSMMaCM Wed 31-Jul-13 18:36:21

I would like each half term to be 2 weeks, so there is more choice of when to take a break away from home.

I am happy for teaching staff to remain on the same wages and work 3 less weeks.

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