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 )

littlestgirlguide Fri 09-Aug-13 20:57:58

Actually, now I think about it, I already do run a weeks holiday club every summer for 30 kids - for free - its called Guide camp!

soverylucky Fri 09-Aug-13 18:23:23

As a teacher I am at a loss as to what I could offer at a holiday club? I can't do sport, music, drama etc. I could do normal lessons if you want to pay me for that but I think the kids deserve a break.

littlestgirlguide Thu 08-Aug-13 18:52:27

Spanieleyes, I will run your holiday club for £500 quid a week take home. I get just under £400 a week pre tax currently, in what is actually quite a well paid government job for this area.
(fully qualified and experienced ex-teacher, 20 years in youth group voluntary work!)

spanieleyes Thu 08-Aug-13 14:05:21

Sod it, I'm not working in my holidays for £500 a week.

That's me out then!!

MidniteScribbler Thu 08-Aug-13 02:28:14

You can keep Gove MiaowTheCat, we don't want him over here thanks!

We're very lucky in that we've got a very active p&c & we're in one of the wealthier church diocese in our area, so we get a fair bit of money thrown at us. Apparently their new plan is to replace the drama room with a purpose built theatre with stage, changing rooms, music rooms and dance room. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! grin

ukjess Wed 07-Aug-13 12:57:38

spaniel eyes,

ahem, Im afraid 900 quid belongs to the tax man.

and say, 600 for building insurance, your insurance, materials, used space, caretaker and receptionist salary contributions.

so its 500 quid for the week... not bad but not as alluring....

MiaowTheCat Wed 07-Aug-13 09:37:02

Bloody hell Midnite... we had trouble fitting all the kids in - let alone the associated paraphernalia coming WITH all the kids!

Actually if I was Mr Gove the first thing I would do would be to slap myself around the face with a wet pair of underpants... repeatedly - and only get on to school holidays when my skin was red and peeling.

I'd make Easter shorter so we could have 2 weeks in May.
I like the summer hols and wish they were longer.

Hulababy Tue 06-Aug-13 21:58:10

My school building is only closed for 1 week this summer, when both premises staff are away on their holidays.

Rest of time they are in and the school is open for staff if they wish to work. But primarily it is open for the premises staff to a big deep clean, decorate (paint) walls, hall is being stripped and polished, some new fitted furniture is being fitted in a couple of classrooms. We also have a full building team in building two new external classrooms. For some of this time the playground will be a no go area bar one strict passageway.

spanieleyes Tue 06-Aug-13 21:30:20

Teacher here pondering the logistics of running a summer club

I have 33 in my class so should be able to have that many in a summer club. grin
£2 per hour sounds cheap to me.
9-3 is 6 hours, so £12 a day, for 33 children, gives me £396 a day
Five days a week gives me £1980 a week.

One weeks summer club would pay for my summer holiday!

wordfactory Tue 06-Aug-13 12:41:45

When DC were at prep school, they had around 8 weeks off in the summer.

The school ran a holiday camp for four of those weeks (consecutive), which we only used once,but found fabulous.

It was run by a group of teachers and they split the profit between them, after they had paid for all the help (TAs, gap year students, outside contractors etc).

As I said, the provision was fabulous but it was extremely expensive!

MidniteScribbler Tue 06-Aug-13 12:11:47

We usually only access our classrooms during the holidays, and I wouldn't expect those classrooms to be used for holiday care (I'm in there a lot rearranging, cleaning, fixing, setting up, etc), but the main buildings are generally left vacant. Between the hall, undercroft, music room, drama room, library, six playgrounds, large outdoor undercover area (large enough to hold the whole school) and also the church hall which is connected to our school, we could get all the maintenance done and still fit in holiday care.

MiaowTheCat Tue 06-Aug-13 09:19:18

I agree with utilising the school facilities for holiday care - possible issue with it would be that the schools do tend to need SOME time during the holidays to do things like the holiday deep clean (although with my old school this seemed to involve the cleaning staff doing their usual thing of ignoring the dust and sitting eating biscuits and discussing Ethel down the road's piles for an entire week and then move a couple of bits of furniture slightly and go on dramatically about how busy they'd been!) and lots and lots of maintenance/repair jobs that get done during the summer when the school's empty - things like classroom window replacement, fixing all the bits of varnish the kids have picked off the hall floor over the course of a year's assemblies, carpeting and the like. I know apart from his couple of weeks annual leave in the middle of it all - our old caretaker didn't stop all summer.

MidniteScribbler Tue 06-Aug-13 04:30:17

I agree with utilising the school facilities for holiday care, but disagree with using teachers to staff them. The amount of prep we do is already massive (every hour of the day is scheduled, differentiated, assessed, justified, reflected on). Adding in the planning needed to provide activities for a range of ages and needs, the risk assessments, differentiated, etc, and it's just not logistically possible for classroom teachers in addition to their current workload. I do think that teachers in training should be able to work at them and include the work as part of their accreditation and other workers (such as TAs) should be able to work them if they choose.

I'd love to see private organisations able to tender for the rights to before/after school care and holiday care using local school facilities. The program can be coordinated and managed by legitimate organisations, without putting more pressure on the schools themselves.

GW297 Tue 06-Aug-13 00:41:11

Miaowthecat - I teach in Nottingham too! Agree with your comments re the bonkers holiday arrangements for all the different LAs and academies! Why, why, why when they want schools to become academies are they messing about with the holidays in the city - totally nonsensical!

HoikyPoiky Mon 05-Aug-13 22:36:12

I never liked the Canadian school hols. My kids school had 10 week summer holidays sometimes and then a straight run right through to Xmas. By the time Xmas came everyone, including the parents were desperate for a holiday.
South Africa (private schools) have four terms of 10 or 11 weeks with about a month off in December and August and two/three weeks at Easter and October. It's fantastic.

nooka Sat 03-Aug-13 23:02:30

I live in Canada and we have a longer summer holiday (8 weeks, except for children in years 8 and 9 who get an extra two whilst the kids in 10,11 and 12 have exams), with about the same length at Christmas, no Easter and a week in spring. No half terms and teacher training days scattered around. It equals out to about the same amount of holiday as in the UK, just differently allocated. I think the UK set up is much better!

This summer my dd is going to a week art camp, a week climbing camp, a week musical theatre and a week of acting. Plus two weeks of family holiday, so she gets two weeks to laze around and do her own thing. ds wasn't keen on any of the activities, and many of them only go up to 13 (he is 14, so too old for the science and computer camps that are more his thing) so he has about six weeks of lazing around. Next year he will be expected to get a summer job. dd's best friend had a four week math catch up camp.

The main difference here is that it's not considered an issue for children of 10+ to be home alone, and babysitting courses start at 11.

Personally I really like activity weeks, but I think it's really important that they are not in the usual setting, with the usual children/teachers. It's been incredibly important for dd to spend time with children who share her interests, and she has been really inspired by the actors and artists. Last year they had great fun with the students at the science camp too.

teacherandguideleader Sat 03-Aug-13 22:48:45

I would like the summer holidays to be 5 weeks and moved to mostly July rather than mostly August. I wouldn't want shorter than 5 weeks as I give up a week to Guide camp, have a week's holiday and then spend 3 weeks planning for the next school year. If we only had 4 weeks, it would be Guide camp that disappeared which would be a shame for the girls.

I would then have 2 weeks at October, 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks at February and then 2 weeks in the spring. All holidays would be fixed - if Easter didn't fit into the spring break it would be taken as a long weekend. Terms would be an equal length.

At the moment, with terms being unequal, curriculum delivery can be a nightmare. Next year, with my year 10 class I have 3 units of work to deliver. There are 3 terms in the year so it should be easy. But, the autumn term is so long I have to start the 2nd unit in the last couple of weeks of term which is just a nightmare as the children are tired and unfocused.

ravenAK Sat 03-Aug-13 22:09:41

Good points re: logistics.

My post was probably a bit Utopian! grin

MiaowTheCat Sat 03-Aug-13 18:17:44

Around here it's going to be a nightmare - but I'm in Nottingham where the city council are changing the term pattern quite drastically, and I'm on the very thin strip of Nottinghamshire where the county council are keeping their traditional term dates, and Derbyshire where their council are staying to their term dates (often there's a few days disparity between the two anyway - and Derbyshire tried fixed "Easter" a few years back - or as staff were calling it "real Easter" and "fake Easter")... and then throw the academised schools into the mix who seem to be about 50/50 over what they're doing and it's going to be chaos.

Part of me is sad I'm not supply teaching as the mish-mash of holidays would have normally meant I could just jump LEAs as one went onto half term!

Like I say - they all need their bloody heads banging together - especially round here where we must only have about 7-8 miles of the county before hitting the city schools so it's quite easy for people to have kids in different LEA schools.

lljkk Sat 03-Aug-13 15:14:37

MiaowTheCat is it really changing that much? I predicted very little change because teachers are parents too, and wouldn't want a big mismatch between their work & their own children's timetable. Somewhere I read or heard a story where HT announced school day start of 7:30am and next day 1/3 the staff resigned.

We used to have an activities week (Challenge week). Now it's 1-2 Challenge days each term.

Someone asked about what other countries do; speaking as furrener from where most mothers worked FT from the 1960s+ and kids still had 12 week summer hols: We kids stayed with childminder, live in help or relatives. And then from ~8yrs old we might be at home all day without an adult. Summer camps are huge, too.

musicalfamily Sat 03-Aug-13 14:27:53

I second school activities weeks too. The children wouldn't have to go to them but they would be a good option for parents who work or simply cannot afford expensive activities or maybe are just unwell.

At the moment I wouldn't use them but life is never predictable.....

meditrina Sat 03-Aug-13 11:11:20

Jersey has an 'activities week' for all schools on the island late in the summer term. All schools do the same week, so it must be a nightmare sorting out the bookings, but it is do-able (because they do it, year after year). As it's a week of term time, there are teachers to supervise, and the activities are run by centres which cater for children year-round, so have CP in place anyhow. Now, I can see there might be issues in scaling it up to UK, but I love the concept.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 03-Aug-13 10:59:53

Organising our school's activity weeks takes at least 10x longer than normal day to day lessons etc.

The workload is huge and that's just for one year group each, for one week a year. There simply is not enough time to do it all for everyone, you'd need an outside supplier. The admin involved in activities includes CRBs, risk assessments, medical forms, registering each worker & child, organising transport, child/adult ratios have to be met, food requirements (allergies, religious requirements, medical restrictions, personal restrictions such as vegans etc). This all takes time. I'm guessing new's children are still at primary based on her comments about the end of term. I can only speak confidently about my school but it's very very different at KS3 and above.

As a child I used to attend a very successful holiday club at my school but it was run by outside experts not our teachers.

Funding is a major issue which I haven't seen adequately explained on this thread yet. The money for these schemes is not going to appear out of thin air so where will it come from?

sashh Sat 03-Aug-13 08:38:27

I would put a couple of 'activities' weeks in the school year where children would not attend their usual lessons but learn first aid, produce a play from scratch, try a new musical instrument, do voluntary work, learn a new sport like skiing.

Children whose parents could prove that their child would be doing something equally valuable, skiing, swimming in the sea, sampling foreign food would be allowed to take their children out of school this week to engage in such cultural activities.

Activities weeks would be standard across each LEA but different weeks in different LEAs so that holiday prices would not rise in these weeks.

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