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?

goinnowhere Tue 19-Feb-13 15:20:19

I don't know. But I feel quite strongly that my dc need them.

BrianButterfield Tue 19-Feb-13 15:28:31

In the US they have two months off during summer...pretty sure it works out about the same school year as we have.

mimbleandlittlemy Tue 19-Feb-13 15:46:38

Well the long summer holiday is an historical throwback to kids going to work in the fields of course, so logically it's not needed now, but every time anyone suggests going on to a more balanced school year it bites the dust.

The US has pretty much the same amount of time as the UK but in the US they finish at the end of May/beginning of June and don't go back until after the Labor Day holiday at the very beginning of September shock, with Spring Break around Easter, a week or so off at Christmas and time off around Thanksgiving so it's not far off ours.

stargirl1701 Tue 19-Feb-13 15:51:41

It depends what parents choose to do with their children in the holidays - they could be educational or not.

The school year is historical. It is based on the farming calendar. Where I live in Scotland, there is a 2 week break in October to allow school children to harvest potatoes. Which, of course, they no longer do.

There is an urgent case for reviewing the school year IMO. Some terms require staff and pupils to work till they drop (current one Jan to Apr 13 weeks with 2 days holiday) whereas other terms we barely get going (first one Aug to Oct 7 weeks).

ByTheWay1 Tue 19-Feb-13 15:55:31

I like the holidays the way they are - gives everyone a chance to get away at various times of the year, to catch up with family, to chill out at home and to do things outside school that require the focus that a holiday period or 2 can allow.

Incogneetow Tue 19-Feb-13 16:05:47

What do the US do in terms of school holidays? Do they not have breaks for mid-terms, Easter and Christmas?

Tansie Tue 19-Feb-13 16:10:28

Oh, I always get all vexed about school holidays!

It isn't so much the cumulative time (though I confess I do resent INSET days!), it's more the weird spread. This is becoming more of a thing now that 'summer' seems to be getting earlier and earlier. I mean, last year, here in Hants, it was March, the previous year it was in April. Come August it's pretty much wall to wall rain these days, isn't it? So I'd rather the DC had 2 weeks off in June, 4 in 'August' and 2 in mid October to at least increase the slight chance we might get some reasonable weather. I also think 2 weeks is the ideal holiday time. A week away and you're only just hitting your holiday stride when it's time to pack up; weeks on end and, rather like the effect if Christmas came every day, the appreciation of that 'down time' is lost in familiarity. My DSs are actually quite glad to get back into school routine come September, actually!

I also don't really think DC need 6 weeks off in one hit. I know that yes, they're only DC once, we shouldn't wish their childhoods away and so forth but 6 or even 9 weeks doesn't really give an older DC any concept of the reality of what life's like when you get 4 weeks all up as an adult! It has always been my 'observation' that these looong summer hols are most favoured by non-working mums who suddenly don't have to do anything against the clock each morning as opposed to getting DC off to school. You will also find -ahem- that many staunch supporters tend to cite southern Europe or Ireland as to how 'it didn't do me/my DC any harm' - all PIIGS countries, one notes!

I can only speak for myself, here, when I say that for my DSs, they (and their teachers agreed with me!) tended to find it was October half term before the DC had got back to where they'd left off in July, but I am aware that this view is only narrowly held: most MNetters DC are gifted therefore hit the ground running after a summer of either 'Lashings of Ginger Beer, out from dawn til dusk' or the Latin summer school in Milan they begged to attend for 4 weeks. Or away at gran and grandpa's summer house in Spain for a month. And so forth.

So everyone has their reasons to love or hate the existing arrangement- but do bear in mind it's an ancient throw-back not predicated on modern evidenced-based research! Like when Easter is so late the DC have been in school for months on end without a break. Try that with a 4 year old. And the next term is 8 weeks long in total!

I think that the english school year is fine. Here in Italy it's 3 months in the summer and then 2 weeks on Christmas and 5 days for Easter, plus the odd Bank Holiday.
3 months in the summer are lovely for the children, but an organisational nightmare for the parents.

Tansie Tue 19-Feb-13 16:23:03

TBF, though, just because the Italian school holiday arrangements are even more ridiculous that the English ones doesn't make the English ones 'fine' just a bit less ridiculous!

PIIGS countries? Oh how delightful... Thinking better about it I prefer to keep my 3 months holiday and chill hmm

jellybeans Tue 19-Feb-13 16:25:04

I like it the way it is. Love spending the holidays with DC. They are in need of the breaks. I think. I think it would be wrong to change it for childcare reasons which is usually the argument for it. It would be awful to have kids in schools almost 52 weeks of the year.

LizzieVereker Tue 19-Feb-13 16:28:54

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that the long summer break is damaging to students, and that much of the first 1/2 term in Autumn is spent "overlearning" things they've forgotten. For children from socially deprived backgrounds you notice a huge regression in their behaviour and esteem in September.

And I'm a teacher, so if I'm willing to concede that a 6 week break is a "bad thing" goodness knows what non teachers must think!

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 16:36:35

The summer break is too long. The children spend half their time in not very exciting kids clubs (can't afford the fun expensive ones) that I can't afford. Private school holidays are even more ridiculously long (don't see how they can justify charging what they do when the children aren't at school for half the year).
I would opt for a little less holiday, well spaced out.
NB back in the olden days of my childhood, I still did handpicking of potatoes, following the tractor. It was backbreaking, v badly paid work, and those wiry worm things were pretty disgusting. Also strawberry and raspberry picking! I was allowed to keep the money though.

Incogneetow Tue 19-Feb-13 16:46:01

I think in Italy the holiday situation is dictated by the high temperatures in southern Italy in the summer, that make it very hard to work and concentrate; unless vast sums are spent on modernising school with aircon.

Incogneetow Tue 19-Feb-13 16:46:28

What happens in the US?

jomaynard Tue 19-Feb-13 16:46:57

I love the summer holiday and wish it was longer!

But in the US system there is a lot of knowledge loss over their long summer holiday. Areas in the UK have experimented with more equitable holidays, but it doesn't seem to have caught on generally.

meditrina Tue 19-Feb-13 16:50:45

Why the resentment of inset days? They were taken out of teachers holidays, and the number of days children are in school remained exactly the same.

I'd prune the sumner hols a little and have a two week break at autumn half term: the autumn term is very long, doesn't have a single Bank holiday, and could do with breaking up a bit.

Indeed Incogneetow, and also in Northern Italy. But nowadays the majority of parents work full time at least in big cities and 3 months holidays are difficult to organize.

ReallyTired Tue 19-Feb-13 16:56:57

I like my children to have 6 weeks in the summer so that they get the chance to learn something different. (Ie. swimming courses, music weeks etc as well as going away.)

The six weeks is a massive issue for low income families who neither have the money nor the inclination to do anything constructive with the time.

Maybe paying for children to attend intensive swimming courses in the holidays would be a better use of money than paying for children to learn in school..

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 17:03:15

ReallyTired - it's not necessarily to do with not having the inclination to do anything constructive with the children in the summer hols. If you're a single parent who works you only get so much holiday entitlement (usually 4 to 5 weeks a year). This has to cover inset days and all hols, which come to about 14 weeks a year. So for the other 10 weeks you have to pay for holiday club (as cheap as you can find), or try to persuade some other parent or relative to take the children for a bit. It's a struggle, including financially. I think there should be more school and less holiday. This would help with improving academic results, and more non academic stuff could be included.

TinTinsSexySister Tue 19-Feb-13 17:08:58

So there seems to be no educational benefits anyway.

I was aware of the historical reasons but wondered if it was now justifiable because it was better in some way. Seems not - bit mental really.

I think a little less and spread more evenly would make so much more sense.

I have friends in the US who, at primary level at least, are allowed to take holiday with their DCs whenever they want ie the school is open all year, apart from bank holidays, and each child has to attend for however many weeks within that.

It sounds like that is a v unusual arrangement though and I wonder how it could be managed in the classroom too. If it could though, I think it would be great.

DadOnIce Tue 19-Feb-13 17:21:09

Educational arguments aside, I do wonder how people expect shorter holidays to work in practice. There is another side to the coin - shorter holidays mean longer terms. And this has an implication which isn't often discussed.

Let's take the simplest reduction - leaving half-terms, Easter and Christmas as they are and having the summer holidays reduced to four weeks. That means the term is increased by 2 weeks. That's an additional 10 working days for every full-time teaching post in the country.

Looking at one of the smallest primary schools, which might have six teaching staff, that's an additional 60 working days just for the staff of that one tiny school.

Now look at a medium-sized secondary school, which might have 60 teaching staff. That's an additional 600 working days to pay for.

Think about that story up and down the country, several thousand times over - plus all the extra funding for ancillary staff, overheads, etc. - and we're talking an extra injection of millions into the Department of Education. Some people already have enough resentment (misguidedly) of public servants' salaries coming out of their taxes. How would they react to this additional burden on the budget requirements?

Mominatrix Tue 19-Feb-13 17:32:23

In the US, the value of long summer holidays is dependent on what you have access to. It has been shown that those from more deprived families slide backwards whilst those from more affluent households don't experience the same slide. If you can afford it, there are amazing summer opportunities - all kinds of enrichments camps, summer schools including university courses (many universities including Ivys open their summer courses for able high schoolers), internships, foreign study, etc. If one can afford them, the activities available are really amazing.

There are some state schools (charter schools) which have successfully raised attainment in poorer neighbourhoods by vastly decreasing the length of the summer holidays and also some summer programs specifically targeting those from poorer backgrounds which have also been successful.

EvilTwins Tue 19-Feb-13 18:39:00

Why does this come up so frequently? School holidays have been the same for such a long time- I'm always a bit hmm about people who complain about having to sort childcare- it can't have come as a surprise...

Not helpful, I know.

FWIW, I teach secondary and have never found much of a problem with students forgetting things over the summer. Maybe it's more prevalent at primary. The other thing is that, even with Yr10 & yr 11 students, they're tired by the end of each term- they need the break.

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.

tiggytape Tue 19-Feb-13 22:34:25

I think the summer holiday is about a week too long (but in fairness our school tends to save up most Inset days for the Summer so it feels more like 7 weeks than 6).

The Christmas holiday and some half terms though are far too short. Last year, the DCs broke up on the Friday before Christmas Eve and went back in the first few days of January. There was no time for any pre Christmas activities or build up and no time to really rest before the new term. We all had just enough time to contract and shake off the usual winter bugs before it was back to school again.

I would actually like about 2 or 3 weeks extra added over the year.

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 22:38:07

No, Dromedary, of course not. I wouldn't imagine that's what LeeCoakley meant, either.

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 22:41:45

You can really tell that many of the posters on here are well off - they don't seem to have any issues with needing to work while their children are on school holiday. Surely you can understand though that that is a problem for many parents. Also not being able to send their children on lovely activities or holidays away.
Eviltwins - surely part, and arguably the main role of education is to prepare children for higher education and working?

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 22:42:48

Letseat - it's what she said.

EvilTwins Tue 19-Feb-13 22:45:31

Dromedary - no, I don't think that the main role of education at all.

I also find it odd that you can conclude that posters on here are "well off".

You knew that schools had holidays, right? You knew that childcare during school holidays was something you would have to deal with? So...?

The vast majority of my friends are working parents. Everyone deals with childcare during holidays one way or another.

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 22:46:57

Surely, Dromedary-you knew the length of school holidays before you had children and it shouldn't have come as a shock. Most other countries have longer holidays than the UK.

Schools are not childcare providers.

ledkr Tue 19-Feb-13 22:50:46

I'm not well off! Even when I was a single parent I enjoyed the holidays.
Even on a work day it's a nice feeling coming home knowing you don't have to do homework or packed lunches. Lovely feeling.

ReallyTired Tue 19-Feb-13 22:53:11

" 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."

I believe that Finland has stupidly long holidays and shorter school days than us yet they are top of the league tables. Anyway I think the PISA comparisions just test a country's ablity to do tests. Some high scoring countries are useless with severe special needs kids.

Dromedary do you really want your child to have more school or do you just want free childcare.

tiggytape Tue 19-Feb-13 22:55:20

I shouldn't think most people are so well off that they can afford 13 weeks childcare / lose 13 weeks of paid work if self employed and not feel it. But that isn't the same as saying they'd want their children in school for weeks and weeks extra every year just to maximise earnings / cut the costs.

And whilst lovely activites are by definition lovely, most kids are happy just with being out of school routine, having time to be with friends / family or having the odd day out even if it is free. I don't think you have to be rich or not working to think school holidays are both beneficial and necessary.

Children definitely do not need 4 weeks annual leave to get them used to the big bad world of work and as for Higher Education - the holidays are even longer! When I started Uni, term didn't even begin until October then it was Christmas holidays as usual. I don't know any adults unable to cope with holding down a job due to the lazy habits they forged during excessively long school holidays so I don't really understand why this generation of children might suddenly suffer from this.

EvilTwins Tue 19-Feb-13 23:02:09

Tiggy- that's a good point. I went to Warwick University, and I don't think we were unusual in that we did three 10 week terms per year, with one Reading Week per term- so 27 weeks per year.

tiggytape Tue 19-Feb-13 23:11:37

I went to a RG uni too and was hardly ever there!
I think we probably had the same term pattern as you - 3 short terms per year with a 'reading week' in the middle of each. The holidays were definitely much, much longer than school holidays - none of this rushing back after Christmas malarkey!

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 23:16:25

Personally, I cope fairly well with school holidays, though the additional cost is hard. I work part time during school holidays, to minimise the problems of needing to use childcare and not being able to spend the time with the children. I also have slightly longer holidays than the norm. And I have managed to persuade relatives to take my children for a holiday for a week a year, which really helps. Not everyone is as lucky as I am - eg I have a flexible employer.

But enough about my personal circumstances - I have been trying to put forward the situation of those who need to work, often full time and with only statutory minimum holiday, and sometimes as single parents, and often without having much money.

I have no problem with the government seeing schools as having a role in enabling parents to work - there is no reason why that can't be part of their, state funded, function.

I don't think that young people having to adapt to far shorter holidays when they start work is too much of an issue, though it is a shock at the time. But I do think that if there are very long holidays, this will impact on educational achievement, and that that will feed into people's future prospects, the economy etc. I don't really understand people not thinking that children go to school, at least in part, in order to become able to earn a living later on.

I hope that clarifies things - I have to go to bed now - work tomorrow despite its being half term.

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 23:18:23

Because childhood should be about more than school!

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 23:19:20

And life about more than making "expected progress"

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 23:20:17

Yes, we have had a visit from "them" angry

MajaBiene Tue 19-Feb-13 23:21:46

I think shorter, more frequent holidays would be better - say six 6-7 week terms with 2 weeks between each, 3 weeks in the summer.

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 23:25:37

I think shorter, more frequent holidays would be better - say six 6-7 week terms with 2 weeks between each, 3 weeks in the summer.

How do you think people would be able to organise their summer holidays with only 3 weeks off in the summer? A massive number of people will want to go away during the same three weeks-there will not be enough holiday homes/hotels/cottages/camping sites/caravans/flights to cater for such a narrow margin of opportunity.

MajaBiene Tue 19-Feb-13 23:28:45

Maybe people would just have to go on holiday at a different time shock

MajaBiene Tue 19-Feb-13 23:32:37

I don't think it would be a problem at all actually - it would only be families with school age children who would be restricted to (for eg.) 2 weeks in June, then the last 3 weeks in August. Different LAs could easily stagger holidays by a week. Anyone without children or with pre-school children could go outside those weeks when it's cheaper anyway.

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 23:35:42

Maybe people would just have to go on holiday at a different time

Yeah-brilliant if you can jet off to go skiing in May or October, but most people want to go on holiday (mainly to the UK!) in the summer holiday because that's when the weather is at its best!!

Cathycat Tue 19-Feb-13 23:37:03

The government wouldn't be able to afford teacher wage increase! That's why it doesn't happen! As teachers are only paid for a certain amount of hours a year (as is everyone!) I hardly think that during a recession the government would give out extra pay!

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 23:38:40

Different LAs could easily stagger holidays by a week.

We have LAs round here operating different term times from others. Lots of parents end up with one of their children having different holidays to others and it causes huge problems with lots of people taking one child out during school time. The school then has a fit because it impacts on their attendance figures which can put them into special measures.

It just wouldn't work.

Hulababy Tue 19-Feb-13 23:38:52

It would be a logistical nightmare. Not just families with children fighting over limited holidays either - anyone with a teacher, ta, any other school staff... Also anyone wanting to holiday with others with school age children... And are you going to restrict those without children booking school holiday weeks?

Staggering is a pain too - children on different leas, teachers working in different leas to own children, families in different parts of country.....

It's bad enough for people to juggle holidays away within office places as it is.

And holiday prices will increase for the new holiday weeks because let's face it - they are not going to reduce prices for weeks are they?

DadOnIce Tue 19-Feb-13 23:44:56

It's a daft idea to stagger them. Some parents are teachers too! What if their authority's holiday didn't coincide with the children's?

And nobody has responded to the costing point I made yet, apart from Cathycat who made the same point more succinctly smile

letseatgrandma Tue 19-Feb-13 23:52:04

I think, DadonIce-people don't seriously think that teachers will be paid any extra. I would imagine that because teachers only work 9-3 anyway, they will just have their terms and conditions altered by Mr Gove so that they can't be work-shy whingers any more. When they moan about it, they'll just be accused of them A) not liking children, B) not being good at their job or B) not being commited...

DadOnIce Tue 19-Feb-13 23:53:44

That's just what I thought a lot of people might be thinking, letseatgrandma, and not daring to say! And it was just what I was trying to tease out with my first post... sadly nobody fell into the bear-trap. Better cover it more effectively next time! smile

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 06:48:02

I don't see the problem with staggering them really unless you are aiming for extended hols (more than two weeks) which lets face it most are not. Many many families can't afford a holiday or nice days out.

It's easier when they are small because parents can make a nice day out of a trip to the park, or a museum etc. But teens are not so easy to please and I do think long summer hols are bad for some older DC. It might not be so bad if we actually had something resembling a proper summer. For several years now the weather in the UK ha sbeen crap in July and August. As I say not everyone can jet off to find the sun.

I find the Christmas holidays too short. And really the long drag between Chrismas and Easter is hard going for all DC. Fixing the Easter break would be a good start and would even out the terms a bit. We should still have Good Friday and Easter Monday to fit in with the normal work place break but the two week break could be fixed.

My youngest is 16 now and will have a long summer break after GCSEs. He's the youngest of 6 so my days of what to do with the long wet summers is nearly over.

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 07:16:35

DadonIce....Of course everyone realises teachers are often parents too. For those who aren't teachers getting say the February or October half term week off in almost impossible......every parent wants that one week! Some do have a choice of when they take their 4 weeks but many are stuck with the rota and only a few workers are allowed off at any one time.

When mine were younger DH had a job which involved him working away for July and August he had to work when the work was there and take days off when he could. Lots don't get to choose and staggered holidays would help them get at least some family time.

How silly. A possibly intelligent question has just descended into mindless teacher bashing. sad

And how sad that so many people think that the purpose of childhood is to 'prepare for work' - at 6? at 10? What about children being children? And, when they are grown up and suitably mature, behaving as adults do, with more responsibility, longer hours, etc?

Mominatrix Wed 20-Feb-13 07:34:31

The data from the US regarding long summer holidays and INCREASING the attainment gap between richer and poorer children is very sobering. Here is just a spotlight:


Sure, MN mums have no issue with long summer holidays - we fill our children's time with fun, enriching activities. Very few voices here have been against them - either for childcare reasons or one from a teacher who teaches in a school whose demographics are precisely those who suffer most. I find it funny that people get het up about private vs state and abolishing grammars, but something like this, which has proven detriments to poorer children - meh, no interest.

Personally, I love the long holiday and wish they were as long as the US ones. However, my children's days are filled with art camps, science camps, sports, foreign holidays and other activities. It is good for them, but it is precisely what I do with them which increases the distance in attainment between them and children from poorer backgrounds.

Surely, Mooninatrix, no argument for reducing the best (your situation) just because everyone can't/doesn't do it in the same way?

We should be looking at ways of improving the holiday experience of children from families on low incomes, rather than cutting the holidays for everyone.

In my area, there are many free activities in the holidays, including bus trips, art days, art courses, music days ... and they are never full. The children who are there are mainly middle class; those for whom the provision was made, just don't turn up. Obviously, one reason is that you need an adult to take the children. However, today I am not at work and I am taking 4 children to an art day from families where the parents are working. Then we will do it the other way round. It is not impossible!

We need to find out why, not take away everyone's holiday.

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 07:54:51

I didn't think anyone was teacher bashing.

If holidays were staggered more people would take their holidays at different times and DC would have less long terms which I think would benefit some.

We are all just expressing opinions and we are allowed to have differing ones.

Mominatrix Wed 20-Feb-13 08:00:53

I agree with you BelleDame. I am not against long holidays - in fact, I think they are a crucial adjunct to school. It is a chance to learn from a different perspective, and crucially learn subjects not necessarily focused on at school. I just am also aware that children are very lucky, and that many other children do not have such opportunities.

The case you made of activities which are highly subsidised or free being taken by middle classed children instead of those they are targeted to is made in one or two of the articles I linked. Precisely why some are insisting on making a shorter summer holiday an official thing rather than optional.

Read some of it, Nagy. Sometimes, when I am sitting here planning for next term at 6.30 am on a day of 'holiday', I get a bit fed up with the prevailing MN view of teachers. If I didn't keep reminding myself that (possibly sad) not every parent of the children in my class has the same opinion of me and my colleagues, I would just .... stop and go and play with my child.

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 08:37:57

They tend to bash MIL and Babyboomers to LaBelle. Sometimes that hits a nerve with mewink.

I'm sure the vast majority of parents do appreciate the work you do. I was a TA for many years so I do know all about the extra record keeping and plans.
At primary mine had some wonderful teachers and I also had the pleasure of working with some very dedicated teachers.

In the main secondary teachers were also great. I suppose with 6 DC there was bound to be the the occasional teacher who was either crap or just didn't get on with my teenager!

MoreBeta Wed 20-Feb-13 08:50:15

I strongly support the idea of reforming the school year.

In particular, I support the idea of a 4 term year with a length of 50 days (10 weeks) evenly spaced equal length terms and 3 weeks holiday between each one. Shorter terms without a half term would allow teachers to get projects done but get rid of the stupidly long Autumn term that is exhausting for everyone.

I also think every school in every part of the country should have identical term dates and holiday dates.

My own children just find summer holiday far too long and I see far too many children just raking around streets on their own as parents simply cant get enough time off work.

This links shows the New Zealand 4 term year so it can be done.

letseatgrandma Wed 20-Feb-13 08:54:41

We take one holiday a year (uk only) with my parents and two siblings with their families (we aren't geographically close). It is hard enough for is to find places that are free when people can get time off work-whole offices/wards scrabbling over 6 weeks is problematic enough without cutting it down to three weeks in your authority. If the times our children are off are completely different-it couldn't happen.

At least with 6 weeks-there is a hope of availability of having a holiday all together in a bit of uk sun.

tiggytape Wed 20-Feb-13 09:08:02

But that's partly because New Zealand is the other side of the world so they need to make their Christmas holiday a long one since it also coincides with their Summer.
Their Summer Holiday is still 6 weeks long - it just takes place between December and late January.

DeWe Wed 20-Feb-13 09:26:04

I know I needed the long break in the summer to totally relax and wind down, and I think my children are the same. If we reduced the summer holiday then there'd be even more price inflation for holidays too.

jellybeans Wed 20-Feb-13 10:43:29

I want to keep the long holidays. As it is we only get 5 weeks usually. Some people have family abroad and stay with them for several weeks if there is long haul travel. Most people want to holiday in July and Aug (better weather) so reducing that time would lead to higher prices.. I would be happier with longer holidays personally.

Somebody said it is alright for those who don't have to worry about childcare; that is true but it is a choice we make; we lose things too, salary, status etc-you can't have everything, there are good and bad sides of everything. I do think there should be better school clubs and holidays for those whose parents have to work. I know mine really benefit from guiding/scouts and summer camps. Would be good if something along those lines was developed that didn't cost a bomb. But kids also like chill out time at home also.

Feenie Wed 20-Feb-13 11:01:28

10 week terms? Has anyone seen a class of children after about six weeks, especially KS1? They are absolutely shattered. Ten weeks, pshaw!

meditrina Wed 20-Feb-13 12:25:19

"10 week terms? Has anyone seen a class of children after about six weeks, especially KS1?"

Any Australian, I should imagine. It managed without difficulty there.

Feenie Wed 20-Feb-13 12:54:56

Why, then, are children so tired here, after six and definitely seven weeks? Reception children in particular literally walk into walls sometimes, especially near Christmas.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 14:04:09

nagynolonger - what about parents who are teachers in one authority whose children go to school in another, so their holidays don't coincide? It would happen.

Nobody has addressed my costs issue yet, although to be fair it doesn't apply to those who want the same number of days spread differently through the year. People who actually want the holidays reduced need to come up with a financial justification for it.

MoreBeta Wed 20-Feb-13 14:10:38

The legal minimum UK school year is 190 days so my proposal for 4 x 10 week terms is only 10 days longer than the minimum legal.

The split of 4 x 10 weeks would make for a much shorter 'Autumn Term' which deals with the tiredness issue.

MoreBeta Wed 20-Feb-13 14:14:11

By the way the Govt should also take the oppotunity to shunt Bank Holidays into the general schol holiday periods so orking parents can use those sensibly on top of annual leave to span the school holidays.

MoreBeta Wed 20-Feb-13 14:14:39

'school holiday periods so working parents'

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 14:18:34

Those extra 10 days still have to be paid for somehow.

TinTinsSexySister Wed 20-Feb-13 14:34:57

I have inadvertently stirred up a bit of a hornets nest it seems. Sorry.

I appreciate the financial issue and the working parent one, but I think what I'd really like to know is what the school year would look like if we put those issues aside and made it work best for school age children.

Would primaries have more holiday than secondaries? Would it be more evenly spaced? How long a break is needed in the summer - and is August the best time to do it? Wouldn't a long June/July break be better as it is half way through the year?

Wishihadabs Wed 20-Feb-13 14:39:23

What I think is crazy is the fact that. All school children are treated identically. IMO teenagers get much less tired during terms, get far more bored during long holidays and probably loose more ground than primary children. I think it is ridiculous that the senior schools round here kick out at 2:50pm. Teenagers can do 7-8 hour days easily.

Wishihadabs Wed 20-Feb-13 14:43:27

X post. Btw I work a "rolling Rota" at work. So have for e.g.: 2 weeks off every 10 weeks, have also done a week off every 7th week. 10 weeks is enough IMO everyone is exhausted by the end of it.

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 14:53:53

DadonIce....It already does happen. The primary schools now seem to have slightly different holidays to the secondary schools around here. But parents with only 4 weeks holiday per year have a similar problem. There are holiday clubs and family and other parents help each other out.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 15:06:11

I don't mean this to sound flippant, but... when you have a child you know this is going to happen, right? I mean, people are aware of the fact that there will be 13 weeks of holiday to cover somehow in five years' time. OK, I know we don't have crystal balls to foresee our personal and work situations in 5 years, but people always talk about the childcare issue as if it has come as a great shock to them. (Maybe I'm speaking from a lucky position as DW and I had a lot of flexibility and ours are now old enough to stay at home on their own anyway if they had to, but it seemed to me that a lot of our friends made a huge deal out of something which they must surely have seen coming.)

I wish we could just "put aside" the financial implication. It is surely the single biggest barrier to this happening before we even begin to talk about the possible benefits. People do rather talk about shifting term dates and reducing holidays as if it is something that can just be decided on and made to happen overnight. It will require a renegotiation of all staff contracts - and the unions won't make that easy - and an injection of millions (maybe even billions, I don't know) into the Education department budget. Because teachers, TAs and ancillary staff are not going to work 10, 20 or 30 extra term days a year unpaid. And nor should they.

cricketballs Wed 20-Feb-13 15:13:46

wish - have you witnessed teenagers a towards the end of the Autumn half terms? They get very tired and lose their concentration span very easily; towards the end of the day is difficult given the amount of learning they have to do do

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 15:25:52

I think eventually newly employed school staff will have to work more days in a year. I'm sure some will do it if they can't get a job without agreeing to it.
The best way would be to employ more teachers. But that is not likely to happen.
Lots of jobs are now put out to contract. It's not impossible to do that with teaching....a sort of permanent suppy teacher arrangement employed by school managers.

nagynolonger Wed 20-Feb-13 15:27:40

I'm not saying that should happen by the way!

Tansie Wed 20-Feb-13 15:38:53

I am still trying to square the large gangs of bored, aimless teenagers I see hanging around outside the local Tesco half way through July with the 'children need time to play, to use their imaginations, to be, well, children' argument grin, presumably one of them is in the Tesco buying up the lashings of ginger beer....

As I said ages ago, I am of the 'more even length terms and similar length holidays' persuasion. I am not arguing for shorter holidays but I am arguing against 6-9 week holidays, when offset against a week in June and October.

I have already made the point that the weather in August has been consistently rubbish over the past 5-7 years, that 2 weeks in June and 2 in October increase the likelihood of getting at least one of the holidays with reasonable weather; that 2 weeks is a good, sensible length of time off in order to unwind and recharge, better than 1 week.

I have seen plenty of examples here, too, of people saying, as I predicted they would, 'I love the 8 weeks my DC get! Once they've done a week's art camp, a week's science camp, a week's adventure holiday, we've spent 2 weeks in our villa in Provence and they've spent a week with my sister in Spain- well, they're good and ready for school again!'- in other words, it works for me therefore it shouldn't change- and the fact the 'art camp' or 'science' camp would then probably be also offered in the 2 week June or October break is overlooked.

As for the 'you knew what you were signing up for when you had DC' re holidays etc, well, just because one aspect of having DC is the way it is doesn't mean it has to stay that way forever, especially when we pride ourselves on being sane, scientific, rational beings- yet our school holidays are predicted by a) the agricultural year and b) the Christian church year!

Finally, well, if we take the 'the knew what you were getting into' argument, surely that applies to sending your DC out of catchment and LEA to different schools to each other? That wouldn't be a problem if all schools took the same time off!

ReallyTired Wed 20-Feb-13 15:45:42

I think that supervised homework clubs are better for teens than extra school. Teachers need time to plan. I think that having home work clubs say 3 times a week staffed by TAs would increase achievement more than lessons.

It is nightmare finding childcare for secondary school level kids. They don't take kindly to being put with a childminder or a holiday club. An eleven year old is pretty independent, but personally I would not want my eleven year old hanging about on street corners smoking and possibly getting into trouble.

Tansie Wed 20-Feb-13 15:49:48

Yes re 11 year olds and school-holiday clubs! I am lucky that ours has an "11+ club" which takes them to 14! I have told my 2 that once they're 12 and 14, they can stay home whilst I'm at work.

I also wish there was an extra hour in each school day in Secondary so that DC could do either homework or organised sport/craft/etc, but I recognise the cost implications of that- though I'd pay extra for it! (but that's because I can though many couldn't).

Wishihadabs Wed 20-Feb-13 16:07:55

Cricket balls I have witnessed teens all over the town center for hours on end. When I was 11-14 I would hang around parks and playgrounds between 3 and 7 each afternoon smoking and generally getting in to trouble. Would have been much better with organised sports or homework as in the private sector.

When I was 14 I worked 3-6 everyafternoon. Teenagers do not need to finish being productive at 3pm

ReallyTired Wed 20-Feb-13 16:22:18

Teens are set quite a bit of home work. Unless there is a stay at home parent to make them do it it often doesn't get done. I believe that homework clubs staffed by TAs would raise achievement and keep teens out of trouble.

The long term savings of not having so many teens smoking, getting into trouble, less teenage pregnancy, getting better GCSE results would pay for the home work clubs. Many parents are unable to help their teens with their home work. A TA would help distinguish the teens who are honestly stuck from the down right lazy.

Wishihadabs Wed 20-Feb-13 16:30:51

I used to my homework in the back of the hairdressers smile

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 20:21:31

Tansie - I agree with you.

DadOnIce - what are you saying? That people who when their children are 10 say they are finding it hard paying for all the childcare needed in the14 weeks school hols plus inset days only have themselves to blame because they knew this would happen when they had the child 10 years ago? So they shouldn't have had children at all then?

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 20:36:34

Dromedary, congratulations on this thread's "completely rewording what someone said in order to disagree with it" trophy. smile

JeanBodel Wed 20-Feb-13 20:39:06

When I was TTC I worked out exactly what tax credits we would receive, and the help we would get to pay for the cost of childcare.

Then there was a change of government, and it was all taken away.

Expecting people to predict the cost of these things ten years in advance is impossible.

KobayashiMaru Wed 20-Feb-13 20:39:55

I'm not sure who so rudely cited the "PIIGS" countries as poor examples, hmm but considering that in Ireland we start children later, have shorter days, longer holidays etc, and yet we still totally trounce the UK on every objective measure of educational success, I'd take that back if I were you.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 20:40:19

So what are you saying then, DadonIce, that parents know they need childcare so shouldn't complain about the cost or the length of holidays?
People do tend to complain about things that they don't like and that are outside of their control to change. Especially when they've been asked to comment on the issue on a discussion forum.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 20:43:53

I suppose I'm just saying it's part and parcel of the whole business of having children. DW and I had two, needed childcare for both and assumed we'd never get any help with paying it.

In a broader sense, the childcare argument is a bit derailing when it comes to discussion of whether school holidays are good for children as they stand or if they should be altered. It sort of equates schools with childcare (albeit unintentionally) which is something which rather gets teachers' backs up.

What are PIIGS countries??

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 20:52:55

The ones in financial crisis - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 21:00:54

What teachers sometimes don't get, I think, is that children and parents are a package. For instance our school made Reception children start school a week later than everyone else (including their older siblings). During that week, the reception teacher did home visits - 20 mins per child.
I pointed out to the HT that this practice meant someone in my position would have to spend a quarter of their annual holiday entitlement staying home to look after their younger child during that week. The HT responded: "Our concern is for the best interests of the child, not the parents." Also: "Oh, it's only a week." (she gets the usual teacher 13 weeks). I explained that this in turn meant that both children would have to be sent to holiday club (minimum of £30 per day at the really boring club they don't like much) for an extra week in the school hols, instead of having a week at the beach.
Long holidays means that parents who don't have much money have to spend what little they have on cheap holiday clubs, instead of on nicer holiday activities during a shorter period. And if they can't afford the cheap holiday clubs, or their children are 11 or over, the children are left at home / on the streets. This is not in the interests of the children and their development. The successful development of children is something teachers are supposed to care about.
I don't think it's right to give long holidays on the basis that the wealthy want their children to go on expensive holiday courses. Let's at least use educational arguments, not arguments based on what the rich only like to do for their children educationally outside of school.

letseatgrandma Wed 20-Feb-13 21:01:37

Bearing in mind that many other countries have far longer summer holidays than England-I wonder what parents in those countries have to say about them?

Do US parents, for example, want their school summer holidays to be 3 weeks long?

Poundpup Wed 20-Feb-13 21:04:00

Funnily enough, I was having this conversation with my DS today and I suggested that the six week holiday could be cut down to three weeks and the three half term one week long breaks could be increased to 2 weeks.

One week never feels like enough, just as your starting to power down, you have to start getting back into school mode. I also think that due to the amount of pressure the kids are under they need a longer break (or maybe it's just me getting older that needs more breaks!)

I will now have to read back to find out what financial crisis has to do with educational achievement and length of holiday! And get wound up again by ignorant comments about teachers' holidays.

letseatgrandma Wed 20-Feb-13 21:11:20

I suggested that the six week holiday could be cut down to three weeks

As discussed further up the thread-this would prove incredibly difficult for people to book their summer holiday as, let's face it, people want to go in the summer (not in June or October) as it's generally warmer.

1. They'd be fighting with the rest of the office for just 3 weeks leave.
2. Everyone would be trying to book travel agent/flight/holiday home/camp site for those three weeks-there wouldn't be enough of them for the same number of people.
3. Prices would absolutely rocket in those three weeks.

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons why it wouldn't work. If you tried (as someone else suggested) to stagger the holidays by LEA, then you would have parents with children or other family members in more than one LEA unable to holidays together, or teachers in one with their children in the other-never able to have a summer holiday together.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 21:17:58

LaBelle - not ignorant about teachers' holidays. My sister and brother in law are teachers. Brother in law has mostly taught in very tough secondary schools - very stressful.
I get it that teaching is hard and tiring. I get it that some time in the hols is spent on preparation (but judging by the teachers I know not all that much time). What teachers don't seem to get is that some at least of the rest of us also have tough, stressful jobs, worse paid (often much worse paid), no benefits to speak of, little job security, no union support. Those people are expected to manage on 4 weeks' hols a year and if they moan about it they don't do so in public. Teachers have had a lot of public sympathy for a long time, in part due to very vocal union representation, in part due to the fact that we can put a face to you as you look after our children. But you don't necessarily NEED 13 weeks' hol.

goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 21:30:50

"By the way the Govt should also take the oppotunity to shunt Bank Holidays into the general schol holiday periods so orking parents can use those sensibly on top of annual leave to span the school holidays."

Apart from May Day, they are already.

goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 21:33:34

Those people are expected to manage on 4 weeks' hols a year.

Not 4 weeks though. 28 days minimum inc bank hols, so nearly 6 weeks. Still not masses, but more than 4. Certainly I know plenty who get more than this minimum.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 21:39:10

Teachers' pay is worked out on a pro rata basis, so anyone suggesting a reduction in holidays - i.e. an increase in term-time classroom contact time - should bear in mind that they are advocating an increase in the Education budget to cover the additional days teachers will need to be paid for.

Sorry if I keep banging on about this but I do need to spell it out.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 21:42:12

The extra 8 days is for bank holidays - that was why the number was changed. Very many people get bank holidays (yes employers are allowed to oblige people to take their holidays then) and 4 weeks' annual leave, and that's it. Teachers get 13 weeks, plus those bank holidays that fall outside of school holiday time. So approx 13.5 weeks.

Morebiscuitsplease Wed 20-Feb-13 21:43:01

My children need their holidays. It gives us time to catch up with non school friends. I am perfectly happy with the system and juggle chiildcare in holidays. We read over the summer and my eldest has a few mAths classes. Still plenty of time for fun. She always makes good progress in that first term back.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 21:43:59

This whole discussion is more based on what we would like than on what is likely to happen. Still, if the government really wanted it to happen, there are ways and means. Eg no pay increase at all until there is an agreement to reduce holiday entitlement.

goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 21:47:36

One bank holiday outside normal. Sorry to be picky, but it is.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 21:48:28

There are 2 May bank hols.

letseatgrandma Wed 20-Feb-13 21:52:30

There are 2 May bank hols.

Yes, and the second is included in the May half term.

goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 21:53:05

Yes. The late one falls in half term


goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 21:58:33

Anyway, bank hols aside, I really don't want my dc in school more. They are largely under more pressure than we were at school already.

The answer to childcare issues is not more teaching. I would say school premises should be used as childcare bases which might make childcare cheaper and I do think a number of weeks should be subsidised per family.

letseatgrandma Wed 20-Feb-13 22:03:02

The answer to childcare issues is not more teaching.

Well said smile

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 22:22:36

Believe me, several weeks in relatively cheap childcare over the summer is the last thing children need.
As long as it's not your children though.

goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 22:46:28

Good childcare, where they could have fun, do activities, make friends would be preferable tp a summer of lessons.

My dc have done plenty of childcare.

letseatgrandma Wed 20-Feb-13 22:49:57

Dromedary-I would imagine thousands of parents out there would not want their children in a classroom doing lessons all summer. Please don't confuse education with childcare.

goinnowhere Wed 20-Feb-13 22:55:52

Good childcare, where they could have fun, do activities, make friends would be preferable tp a summer of lessons.

My dc have done plenty of childcare.

Dromedary Wed 20-Feb-13 22:56:58

I wouldn't get rid of the summer hols, just make them shorter - 3 or 4 weeks is a good long break, and better for those who are stuck in childcare or on the streets. I would also or alternatively agree with those wanting to even out holidays a bit. Lengthen half terms to 2 weeks - in the spring maybe keep feb half term as it is, but add a week to the Easter hols, shorten the summer hols. The Xmas hols are long enough - horrible weather mostly, v short days. Both in the UK and abroad the weather is a lot nicer in spring and Autumn than in summer, and there wouldn't be a clash with holidaymakers from other countries.

Wishihadabs Thu 21-Feb-13 06:33:06

I agree half terms don't seem long enough. I am lucky enough to work pt, DH works from home 2X a week.For us holiday childcare is manageable, they might get a couple of days in kids club. The kids club is full of children who are there Mon-Fri for weeks on end, frequently the children of single parents (1X 4 weeks leave).

The staff do their best (I have also staffed holiday childcare as a student) but TBH it is hard to keep upwards of 20 children
entertained for 8 hours a day. A more even split would benefit these children the most.

Not my middle class dcs who have a varied and exciting summer.

FergusSingsTheBlues Thu 21-Feb-13 06:49:15

I have NO idea how the average family accommodates summer holidays. It must be a total nightmare if you both work. Summer camps are all well and good if youbcan afford it, but in reality?? How do you cover six weeks?

ledkr Thu 21-Feb-13 07:24:52

fergus the average family would have two lots of leave to utilise. It's single parents who I feel sorry for.

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 07:44:19

Drom - I don't get how your model would help you. Shorter summer but longer Easter and half terms? You'd still have to cover it hmm

Why do these threads always end up coming down to "teachers get too much holiday"? It's not as if teachers make the rules.

jellybeans Thu 21-Feb-13 09:55:42

Some people need a long summer break. DC have friends with family in India, Australia and Bosnia. They need several weeks to see family as the other holidays are too short for long haul and seeing all their relatives who may live a long way apart.

It seems the main reason people want them shortening is for childcare reasons. That is the wrong reason to change things.

ReallyTired Thu 21-Feb-13 10:01:59

I don't think that the school year should be lengthened just because some children have to spend 10 weeks a year in second rate shitty and expensive childcare.

Surely the answer is to improve the quality of childcare rather than increase the amount of school.

Dromedary Thu 21-Feb-13 11:41:20

EvilTwins - the children get less bored with holiday club or hanging around the streets with nothing to do if it is spaced out. I also think, bearing in mind everyone not just me, that it is better to have a number of medium length breaks, than one long one and the others short. I also much prefer the weather in Spring and Autumn - less worrying about suncream, getting too hot. It would also mean better prices and fewer crowds for those who go abroad (which we can't afford to), and probably also in the UK, as some would take their main annual holiday in the Spring, some in the Summer and others in Autumn.

Dromedary Thu 21-Feb-13 11:42:15

Reallytired - people can only do so much if they are charging at the lower end of the market.

Hulababy Thu 21-Feb-13 11:45:54

Teachers don't really get 13 weeks holiday. That's naive to believe do. They get 13 weeks of non contact time. They are expected to use some of that time to plan, prep and assess your children's work.

Dromedary Thu 21-Feb-13 11:56:45

Yes, that's true, but they don't spend 8 weeks on it. Even the most conscientious ones (and some are not) end up with way more holiday than anyone in any other job.
They also do tidying up the classroom at the end of term in school hours, while the children are sat in front of videos several days in a row (at least in our school).

ReallyTired Thu 21-Feb-13 12:11:03

Dromedary, how much do you pay for one day of childcare? How much do you think a working parent should pay towards the cost of their children?

I paid £20 for a county music day which lasted from 9.30 to 5pm. In the present climate subsidises have been cut. A couple of years ago a county music day used to be £10. Our local gym club which is entirely private runs a playscheme which is 10 until 3 for £13. (ie, 5 hours care)

Prehaps there should be better wrap around care for existing playschemes rather than extra school. That way the children of working parents would not get bored.

Why should some children lose out on the chance to do nice holiday activites just because their parents work.

Hulababy Thu 21-Feb-13 12:19:43

Dromedary - I know plenty who do a lot of work in the holidays actually. But there always are going to be some either end of the scale, especially if you add in exam marking and moderation.

Mind if teaching such a doddle - well no one is stopping others from going it after all? You'd think we'd be overrun with qualified teachers who want to stay in the system when it's such an easy life wouldn't you???

Hulababy Thu 21-Feb-13 12:21:00

No tidying up with videos on in any s school I've worked in either secondary or primary. Yes I've seen videos but only partial and with teachers sat with children.

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 12:32:52

You do realise teachers are not actually paid for their 'way more holiday than anyone else', don't you?

You sound quite jealous, btwgrin

BigSpork Thu 21-Feb-13 13:32:48

There a lot of variants in the US system (speaking as an American).

My elementary school was "year round" - the school year started in July, was 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off, 5 weeks off in the summer. I preferred the system. My parents also preferred due to being able to do off peak holidays grin.

My junior highs & high schools were both more typically American - short week for Thanksgiving, short time off in December and for Easter, and a long summer. For the high schools, they pretty much lined up with the community college so advanced kids in higher grades could take classes there and the vocational training school for those students as well which was the only real benefit.

I knew people who went a junior high and high school that ran on tracks due to size of building versus population that meant 2 out of 3 tracks were in at once, it was quite complicated.

And the privates had different system, mostly because the ones in my area had all been religious so the Catholic ones had a lot of the saint days off and and the Jewish one's school year tended to start and end later due to the High holidays that are around when most school start. There are state school in those areas and there holidays tend to be adjusted so there isn't as much clash.

Discussion about new systems could probably be helpful but getting real change tends to take a crisis moment (like the track schools, most went back to 'normal' after a few years as the complications gave way to complaints that gave way to funding for more space).

DadOnIce Thu 21-Feb-13 13:33:54

Comments like the "way more holidays" one above are exactly why I keep banging on (somewhat boringly grin) about the financial implications of extending the term. It's in the knowledge that there will be a few light-bulbs going PING over a few heads, as realisation dawns that teachers' pay is worked out on a pro rata basis. Therefore, if you want them to work extra days, you've got to pay extra days.

Starting salary for a teacher is £23,010. That's on the low side compared with other graduate professions - and that's partly because it's based on a working year of 39 weeks. If it were not, the starting salary for a teacher would be 25% higher.

wherearemysocka Thu 21-Feb-13 15:59:59

Yes, teachers have more holiday than most other jobs. That's the terms and conditions of their employment. I think anyone who drones on about how teachers get so many more holidays than people who work so much harder should in addition mention their own salary, annual leave, bonuses, flex time arrangements, any other little perks like staff discounts etc so that teachers can point out that there are people who work far harder than them for much less.

Some people have more perks in their jobs, some have fewer. But you choose to do a job for (among other reasons) the terms and conditions of that employment - some jobs pay well, some are interesting and linked to your degree, some are creative, some involve travel, some get more time off. That's your choice, you take the rough with the smooth, you don't like it, you do something else instead. No point whinging because someone else has something you would like yourself. Become a teacher if you want all those lovely holidays so badly.

ByTheWay1 Thu 21-Feb-13 19:37:10

I have way more holidays too - as a Mid day supervisor.... and no work to mark etc.... the wages are pretty poor, but the work life balance is stunningly good!

If you want me to work extra days you have to pay me more too, and the cleaners, and the caretaker and the lovely ladies in the office and the TAs - as well as the actual teachers..... I love the way it is all being talked about as if teachers are the only ones who would be affected.

Who is going to be paying all the extra money that all these extra days will need.....

nagynolonger Thu 21-Feb-13 19:54:12

There are perks with some jobs. Staff at Tesco etc get a % off their shopping after they have worked there for a while.

Teachers have other perks other than holidays too.

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 20:09:27

Go on, enlighten us as to the rest - you know you want to wink

nagynolonger Thu 21-Feb-13 20:17:09

I didn't bring the subject of perks up!

IwishIwasmoreorganised Thu 21-Feb-13 20:55:11

Surely a huge perk of being a teacher is getting to spend all day with our lovely dc?! wink

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 20:59:26

Teachers have other perks other than holidays too.

So you are unable to substantiate your comment then?

wherearemysocka Thu 21-Feb-13 21:23:23

Ummm...sometimes the kids bake things and give you some? Although I'm not sure if that's always a good thing. I got a chocolate orange last Christmas. I can name all the members of One Direction and know that Tom Daley is, like well fit. Or sick, which is also a good thing.

Financial perks, less so.

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 21:30:55

Indeed! Holidays are the only proper perk, I reckon.

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 21:32:49

The exhilaration on the last night of the school play. Can't pay for a new car or a holiday with it, but it was worth more than a banker's bonus to me [old softie emoticon]

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 21:37:46

Awww, EvilTwins, I am not counting those. They are reasons we do the job (there have to be lots of those for those of us who stick it!).

We could maybe have a separate thread for them, but they are not perks. Oh no. <firm>

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 21:46:27

OK then...

Nope, can't think of any.

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 21:56:41

You are right though - there are other major, major plus points, like yours - there have to be, or we would be mad to put up with half of what we do. Didn't mean to squish you smile

If I can't count the class play .... hmmm .... I got a bottle of wine at Christmas - a really kind thought, just a pity I don't like white wine .... I got a free train ticket to London last term, as I was accompanying 32 children to the British Museum .... Several boxes of chocolates, which my DD really appreciates ....

wherearemysocka Thu 21-Feb-13 22:55:45

I guess we have an agreed national pay structure, where you're rewarded for your experience and work in the classroom rather than how much you suck up to the Head and dance around telling everyone how great you are.

Huh? What's that, Mr Gove? Oh, I take that last point back, then.

Feenie Thu 21-Feb-13 23:05:10


MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 10:11:40

What is the 'normal' typical school year in terms of days in a UK state school (excluding INSET) for a full time teacher for a typical LEA?

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 11:33:15

195 days - including INSET - why would you want it excluded?

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 11:52:00

195 days - including INSET - why would you want it excluded?

I agree, Feenie. Why do so many people see ensuring teachers are kept bang up to date with current legislation and good practice as a bad thing or even an annoyance?

Next we'll have the suggestion than teachers take their inset days taken out of their holidays AGAIN.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 11:58:17

A relatively generous final salary pension scheme would seem like a fairly obvious 'perk' of a teaching career and very good job security.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 12:01:01

Job security is nowhere near what it used to be, fivecandles, for lots of teachers.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 12:03:54

It's still pretty good relative to most other jobs.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Fri 22-Feb-13 12:12:24

The OP questions about a need for holidays...
Well, yes the children need a break. I'm sure every teacher and parent will have noticed that children get tired towards the end of a term and are not learning as much as at the start.
The summer is too long. I wouldn't object to a 4 week summer holiday and the remaining weeks spread out to give the kids breaks between half terms.

To address the issues in the last few posts...

I'd like to point out that I spend many days in the holidays working; planning/finding resources/^making resources^ etc etc. I also spend at least 2 weeks of the summer hols in my classroom getting ready for the new school year. If there were less holidays I wouldn't do as much of this, therefore impacting my pupils.

I do not get as many holidays as the children and I consider these as paid working days. If you take an average teacher's salary and divide it to include these days alongside the 195 mandatory days, it is a lot less than you might think.

I would also like to point out that IMO my salary and the holidays I get are justified as I worked very hard to get my degree and the job I have today, I continually work hard to remain a good teacher (professional development never stops).

craigslittleangel Fri 22-Feb-13 12:13:04

I haven't read the whole thread, but fivecandles, it would be worth remembering that the current final salary scheme is being phased out after this year. The new/current mandatory scheme has an increase in contribution, which in today’s climate has an overall effect on day to day living.
Everyone can pay into a pension scheme, the teachers’ pension scheme, although good, is being changed to be more in line with other workers. However, support staff do not have such an advantage.
Maybe there should be a thread entitled, 'Does anyone think teachers are worth it?' or 'Why is teaching considered less than other professions?'
Sigh. Sorry, just getting a little fed up with teacher bashing.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Fri 22-Feb-13 12:22:17

Teaching starting salary £21,588.
Divided by 195 days of school = £110.70 per day.
Divided by 30 children = £3.69 per day paid for your child.

I don't think £3.69 is much for your child's education when you compare it to your childminding fees per child, do you?

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 13:32:48


Schools have buildings that need to be maintained. There are other costs like computers, books, training. The average teacher is paid 30K. A newly qualified teacher only does 80% timetable and there are the costs of mentoring and ongoing training. Employing an NQT is far from a cheap option. Schools need to pay for teaching assistants, admin staff, dinner ladies, cleaners, caretakers, libranians, IT support, welfare and many other external services etc.

Cost of having a child in school for 195 days is around 5K or roughly £25 a day. This is not that much cheaper than a holiday club. The amount spent on individual children vary as some children will have one to one LSA support.

People who work in schools are actually paid for 43 weeks of the year as they are entitled to 4 weeks pay.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 14:17:29

People who work in schools are actually paid for 43 weeks of the year as they are entitled to 4 weeks pay.

Not sure about that, ReallyTired.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 14:18:03

Certainly I've never seen anything like that referred to in pay and conditions.

lljkk Fri 22-Feb-13 14:28:16

ReallyTired is right (I was on preschool committee). They get same statuatory 4 weeks holiday time as other employees. Even dinner ladies get sick pay & holiday pay. Bank staff don't, though. And it's customary to calculate the pay so as include a paycheck every month, even in August. This helps with cash flow sometimes, too.

When I've applied for school jobs recently, the admin people are expected to work termtime+2 weeks, so that's 41 weeks of work. they get 4 weeks of paid holiday in addition.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 14:39:52

I think there are lots of perks to teaching which make up for the lower pay , in comparison to other jobs.

Long holidays- I refuse to work in my holidays and that has not stopped me moving up the ranks swiftly

If I want to 3-4 days a week I can be out of the door by 4pm

Flexible working around children

I get paid to spend the day talking about things that interest me to people who interest me

Relatively easy career progression

Usually have job security

Great pension

Most days I go home in a high feeling immensely satisfied

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 14:45:26

ReallyTired is right (I was on preschool committee). They get same statuatory 4 weeks holiday time as other employees.

Can anyone provide evidence for this please?

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 14:47:32

Especially since holiday pay is not referred to anywhere in our pay and conditions.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 14:54:19

lljkk I am on the Resources Committee of our governing body and have never seen the 4 weeks referred to - perhaps you are confusing being paid a salary in the holidays with being paid a salary for the holidays.

LeeCoakley Fri 22-Feb-13 15:05:37

Support staff get paid for 43 weeks a year, maybe that is what you are thinking of?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 15:07:45

I don't think teachers help their case when they position themselves in opposition to working parents (especially odd when so many teachers are working parents). It IS the case that school holidays make life very difficult for working parents and it's just not good enough to say that's tough or you shouldn't have had children then or anything equally unhelpful and unsympathetic. If parents are not able to work because of the cost or difficulty of school holidays or children are not being properly cared for during the holiday then that's not just a problem for the parents concerned is it? It very soon becomes a social and economic problem. Of course, there are potentially real benefits for teachers and many children and many parents of long holidays but there are also real problems and it does no one any favours to dismiss this. There are lots of very good economic and social reasons to change the structure of the school year or at least change the way schools operate to try and address this and to make better use of school buildings and expertise which by and large lies fallow (at great cost) for 13 weeks each year.

And I am a teacher so, personally, would have a lot to lose if this happened but that doesn't stop me understanding that there are good (academic, social and economic) reasons for change.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 15:12:53

I don't see my childcare issues as a problem for my child's teachers - it's my concern and my dh's (also a teacher).

I am willing to express a concern on a social and economic level, however - but as you point out, so should everyone.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 15:14:15

Don't you teach in the private sector, fivecandles? Your 17 weeks really would be a lot to lose then, wouldn't it? wink

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 15:14:42

I love my job but one of the main reasons I do it is because of the holidays. If they reduced them I would go back to my previous career , work similar hours but get paid lots more.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 15:23:38

'I don't see my childcare issues as a problem for my child's teachers - it's my concern and my dh's (also a teacher).'

I think childcare is a social responsibility like education and health. Most of us will have children and it is in all of our interest that children are well cared for.

I don't understand why people sit in their houses tackling problems on an individual level and somehow blaming others for struggling or failing to cope when these problems should be dealt with collectively.

You also may feel differently about childcare if you worked in business or medicine (as I'm sure I would).

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 15:25:34

It's also ridiculous that in the 21st century when we've made so much progress in terms of women's rights, it's often childcare which proves the ultimate stumbling block and is usually the reason for the continued pay and promotion gap between the sexes.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 15:26:54

A social responsibility - exactly. But not a automatic responsibility for teachers. It's a strange joining of dots there that I object to. Childcare to me has nothing to do with my qualification.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 15:27:09

Yep. Recently moved into private sector. At least my school has the good sense to run its own holiday club though!

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 15:34:22

So does mine - a separate company who use our premises for before and after school care, and also holiday clubs.

Separate from teachers and their holidays. smile

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 15:35:58

Maybe schools could provide childcare facilities during the holidays with child care workers and not teachers. Then the teachers still get their holidays and dc of sahp's and those not wishing to use the service would enjoy a holiday.

I don't think its fair to expect teachers to be child minders, school is education and dc need a holiday.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 15:43:33

I'm certainly not saying that teachers should be child minders over the holidays. What I am talking about is a radical overhaul of the way that schools are managed such that we're not working on timings that were set up by medieval harvesting and that has no academic or economic merit but in a way that suits children and parents and the general good. At the very least school buildings should be used to provide affordable childcare but I think we should be looking at summer schools, staggered terms etc. It's a crime that some of these buildings, having cost millions, sometimes with extraordinary ICT and sporting facilities are left empty for 13 weeks of the year.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 15:45:52

It's also shocking that some kids who are failing academically are left completely unsupervised over the summer holidays when there's a real opportunity to provide desperately needed intervention.

goinnowhere Fri 22-Feb-13 15:58:35

I certainly think buildings and facilities should be used, but feel that dc should be able to do fun and different activities during hols.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 15:59:09

Children are like anyone else-they need a break-it is very obvious by the end of a term.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 15:59:13

fivecandles - your post @15.07 hits the nail on the head about 'teachers position themselves in opposition to working parents'. You are a teacher and I wish more teachers would at least be willing to discuss the issues.

The World has changed so much in the last 50 years with far more women working, far more single parent families and yet the school year and the teaching profession rigidly sticks to that old World view.

Much of the 'teachers get such long holidays' commentary on MN is not a personal dig at teachers but a statement about the reality clash of the World of 24/7 business and the 8.30 - 4.00 and 9 months a year school year.

I don't expect teachers to work more hours for no pay. I certainly wouldn't. However, the knee jerk refusal to change anything to fit in with the modern World places a huge strain on parents. Lets face it teachers almost never have to worry about covering childcare in holidays. Teaching unions could garner a huge amount of support from parents by agreeing some change to a 'normal' working year in return for a 'normal' pay and benefits package similar to that in business or public sector.

Given that many young graduates are struggling to get any job the days of demanding a guaranteed pay rise every year, a job for life and 13 weeks holiday really are numbered.

If I might forward a personal note. My children go to a goo provincial private schoool and it is very obvious that some teachers do go the extra mile, are thoroughly professional and loved by parents and children alike and deserve any perks that the job provides. Some teachers though are clockwatching jobsworths that step out of the door at 4 pm prompt and never appear in after school care, after school clubs or holiday clubs Those are the teachers that really rile the parents and they annoy the other teachers too and I know that because a teacher told me that.

Teachers are not saints. They do a hard job very profesionally in many cases but the teaching unions and a hardcore of teachers just don't get it and I wish other teachers would 'call them out'. It is time for a proper discussion.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 16:00:25

'good provincial private school'

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 16:05:00

Teachers are not paid for holidays. As a supply teacher I got more because I didn't get holidays-if I came off supply and got a contract it came down because it was the same money but covered the holidays.
Of course child care is the stumbling block-high quality child care doesn't come cheap-someone has to pay for it.
Quite simply if you take away teacher's holidays (which as someone has pointed out are not just 13 weeks of freedom) then you will lose a lot more teachers than are currently lost.

goinnowhere Fri 22-Feb-13 16:07:40

Sorry was interrupted. Activities in "summer school" could be sports, art and drama based. Staff from schools could do those for extra pay, or outside providers could also contribute. Those school buildings with great facilities could be used. Every school building would not be needed.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 16:07:45

Teachers are not robots-they can't be in school at 7.30am each morning, leave at 5 or 6 pm-eat, work to bedtime, and use either Sat or Sun for school work and then have the holiday taken away!! Sometimes I think they may as well live in a cupboard at school!

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 16:09:17

Staff from schools could do those for extra pay, or outside providers could also contribute. Those school buildings with great facilities could be used. Every school building would not be needed.

Great idea but staff wouldn't want to do it. Outside providers would- but it would cost-it would have to.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 16:09:56

As a teacher I would do it-but the pay would have to be very attractive-I wouldn't do it for peanuts!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 16:13:04

Agree Morebeta. Teachers DO have a lot to lose here and I think their personal investment in the issue blinds them to the very convincing arguments for change.

Teachers work hard and many do work hard over the holidays (it's what I'm doing now) but I don't think bleating on about how hard done by they are and how they are unpaid for the holidays (in which case it's really a pretty decent salary isn't it?) doesn't do them any favours. They need to wake up to the fact that it's the 21st century and we're going to be rapidly overtaken by countries who ARE prepared to move with the times.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 16:23:51

fivecandles - I dont know the payscale of teachers very well but I know the university lecturer payscale quite intimately.

At the top end of the Senior Lecturer payscale its roughly £50k per annum. However, the reality is that the job is 6 months of actual work in lecturing and admin and the rest of the time is yours. So annualised, the pay is not bad at all once you get established and its pretty secure and you go up 1 scale point guaranteed per year. If you work harder and publish research you go up faster. There are plenty of older university lecturers who regard it as a teaching job and barely work outside the minimum required.

Quoting a starting salary for teachers is not really a fair comparison. How much does a well established 45 yr old Head of Dept in a secondary school get paid? That presumably is more like a full time 9 -5 job with some management responsibility?

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 16:27:28

It isn't a maybe-teachers will leave. You find ex teachers everywhere and they all say the same-they love the classroom they don't like the rest-they go.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 16:34:02

But quite honestly there's no teacher shortage at the moment (except for in particular areas and particular subjects which isn't the same as a national crisis). In fact, many NQTs are struggling to get jobs and it's now really competitive to even begin a training course.

Anyway, I'm not arguing for a complete slashing of school holidays - just a better balance. Personally, I'd willingly sacrifice some holiday for more non contact time and more time for research/updating skills and management.

There are also many teachers who'd willingly work during holidays for extra pay (just look at how many will do examining for peanuts) especially at the beginnings of their careers.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 16:47:36

But quite honestly there's no teacher shortage at the moment

No - but there is a massive recruitment issue.

How has this come back round to a problem for teachers again? I thought we had established that holiday clubs would be the way to go.

Use our premises - use my classroom, if you like. But don't use me - your childcare issues are none of my affair, except as an issue which the population as a whole might like to discuss.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 16:48:03

No recruitment, retention.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 16:48:38


Bloody hell, damn keyboard.

<gives up>

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 16:51:58

What is beginning to rile me about this whole thread is that A) this is hardly a new or ground-breaking argument- I remember it coming up when I was a child- the myth that holidays were organised around medieval harvest times etc etc, and B) the inplication that somehow it's teachers who are preventing changes from taking place. Does anyone HONESTLY think teachers have that much power? If any government in the last 60 or so years had wanted to change school term times, it would have happened. This is not something that successive education ministers have tried to push through only to be thwarted at the final hurdle by pesky protesting teachers.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 16:53:43

Good point, well made, EvilTwins.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 16:53:48

'your childcare issues are none of my affair, except as an issue which the population as a whole might like to discuss.'

Strange that you see teachers as somehow not part of that 'population'. In my view, an instrumental part.

There's a debate to be had here and teachers are part of it. For example, one approach which would enable teachers to keep their holidays and might mean that they and parents could take advantage of cheaper holidays (often a bugbear on this site), would be to stagger terms such that school is open all year around with a rota of 6 week courses including an optional leisure/creative or catch up 6 weeks for kids whose parents can't take more than the statuary holiday entitlement each year.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 16:55:59

'This is not something that successive education ministers have tried to push through only to be thwarted at the final hurdle by pesky protesting teachers.'

But only because there'd be a revolt. Anyway, Gove did suggest this very recently and was met with a predictable outcry. I detest almost every proposal Gove has come up with I hasten to add but this is a debate that needs to happen.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 16:56:13

I am a part of the general population as much as my GP is, or a taxi driver.

It's about as relevant to ask them to look after your child in their holidays as it is to ask me.

I am not unconcerned - but it is not my concern. I am responsible for arranging and paying for my own child's care, not anyone else's.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 16:58:58

I'm not sure how much of a problem retention is either Feenie. I can see how a govt minister might think that if teachers aren't committed or resilient enough then good riddance and why not replace them with more enthusiastic (and cheaper) people. There are some schools and colleges that try to recruit only or mainly NQTs.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:02:21

But keeping them is a problem. I went to a meeting where we were told that we were a dying breed (I was an older teacher)because people would no longer come in at 21yrs and carry on to retirement-they now chop and change-come in later in life, start early and move on-have long breaks. Job shares are very common, especially with mothers of young children and those close to retirement.
I am not teaching any more-I wanted a life. I come across them everywhere-e.g. went to the wool shop, owned by an ex teacher-she didn't like the work load, talked to a charity organiser yesterday (on the education side) an ex teacher, spoke to a friend's DD who is a student working in a supermarket-lots of ex teachers there they just want to go to work and go home and leave it. Lots are TAs because they can have break and lunch and go home at the end of the day without work.
Teachers (primary anyway) are stressed. For every hour in the classroom you need one out and that doesn't include the extras like parent's evenings, report writing, school plays etc. There are not enough hours in the day.
It isn't a 'perhaps'-you take away holidays and they will leave in greater numbers than are doing so already. It is very sad because most love the classroom, it just happens to be less than half the job these days.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:03:33

Well I think it should be our concern as teachers over and above the ordinary population, Feenie for all sorts of reasons. We should be involved in at least exploring options for structuring the school year for academic, social and economic merits rather than the current system which is based on medieval harvests. We should be at the forefront of that debate because the education and welfare of our children is part of our vocation and we must also take responsibility for the way in which taxpayers money is spent in providing for the education and welfare of our students.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 17:04:11

Feenie - taxis and GPs do not disappear from providing a service en masse for 13 weeks a year though. If they did, there would be an outcry.

Mind you, it is getting bad enough in the NHS that weekends and school holidays are known to be very bad times to need the care of a hospital.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:04:51

I think it reflects really badly on teachers if they wish to preserve the holidays as they are purely out of self-interest when there are good academic, social and economic reasons for changing them.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:04:59

I'm not sure how much of a problem retention is either Feenie.

I think 50% of the profession leaving within five years, citing workload as the main issue, is a huge problem.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:05:32

Feenie - taxis and GPs do not disappear from providing a service en masse for 13 weeks a year though. If they did, there would be an outcry.

So pay me.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:06:06

* There are some schools and colleges that try to recruit only or mainly NQTs.*

True-they do this because of cost-no other reason. Do you really want schools full of NQTs?
There may not be a shortage but I know full well I can get a job any time I want in teaching. Not a contract, but I only have to go to a few schools and ask about supply work and next time they have an emergency they would phone. I do a good job so they would start using me. It has never failed in the past and I have got full term jobs from it or job shares-it wouldn't fail now. I have never belonged to an agency.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:06:19

I never have an academic problem with the holidays, fivecandles - it never takes long to get my children back up to speed.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:06:48

Maybe it's those 17 weeks that are your main issue acdemically?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:07:54

'For every hour in the classroom you need one out and that doesn't include the extras like parent's evenings, report writing, school plays etc. There are not enough hours in the day.'

Which frankly is a good argument for change. Why on earth pack everything into 5-8 week half-terms when you could spread things out?

What about introducing a Wednesday afternoon leisure/sport/catch up slot (as in France)for pupils where teachers do administrative work/CPD in return for a week's holiday over summer? I think this would benefit everyone.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:08:24

In the paper today it said that doctors were not willing to work weekends for the NHS to suit middle class workers. I am not surprised. If I was a doctor I wouldn't want regular weekend work.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:10:26

'I think 50% of the profession leaving within five years, citing workload as the main issue, is a huge problem.'

But would it be perceived as a problem by government ministers or even head teachers if it means you get to replace the tired and fed up with more enthusiastic and cheaper teachers?

I also repeat my argument that if the workload were spread out more effectively then teachers would get less stressed. I don't think it's particularly healthy or helpful for anyone to work like a nutter for 6 weeks and then have 6 weeks of doing relatively little.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:10:43

fivecandles -how on earth would that work?! If you were in school for more weeks you have more hours in the classroom and you need the hours to plan and mark it. Are you saying that we spread it out and have 3 hours a day in school so that we can have more days?

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:11:43

How about you knock your 17 weeks down to 13 like the state sector? That would surely appease lots of parents and solve some of the issues you've raised. Might help your academic issue also.


exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:12:06

Good grief! If only! You haven't the least understanding of what is done in the holidays.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:13:36

* it means you get to replace the tired and fed up with more enthusiastic and cheaper teachers? *

Pay them little-burn them out and replace. I think that the country would get the schools they deserved with that system!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:13:48

'True-they do this because of cost-no other reason. '

Actually I read a really interesting article about a school that did this for all sorts of good academic reasons and achieved brilliant results because of it. The savings they made on experienced teachers enabled them to have incredibly small class sizes and they were able to train teachers really effectively because they got them fresh and enthusiastic. I'll see if I can find the article.

I'd much rather my own kids were taught by keen NQTs than teacher counting the days to their retirement.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:14:52

'If I was a doctor I wouldn't want regular weekend work.'

And bugger the people who are unfortunate enough to get ill over the weekend??


Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:15:03

Until 67? Since that's a LOT of days, I doubt that happens.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:15:11

The only answer is give you a class for a term fivecandles and then ask your opinion! I will leave you to the debate.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:16:17

Ooh yes, you could do it in your spare 4 weeks, fivecandles. smile

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:17:14

'f you were in school for more weeks you have more hours in the classroom and you need the hours to plan and mark it. Are you saying that we spread it out and have 3 hours a day in school so that we can have more days?'

Duh! Each teacher has less contact time and more time for planning, admin and CPD. And if you have more time to deliver the curriculum you would also have more time to intervene and work with individual pupils who are failing to keep up.

Honestly, people are so used to the system as it is that they cannot envisage any other ways for it to work. A business would simply fail if it worked like that.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:17:22

And bugger the people who are unfortunate enough to get ill over the weekend??

I think they are quite happy to see and treat emergencies-but they are saying 'bugger the ones who are not'-I would. (they are saying it loud and clear in the Times today)

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:19:57

Feenie I have worked in the state sector for 15 years before defecting! By and large the kids and parents who are most disadvantaged by longer holidays are the poorest. It's all very well if you can afford good quality childcare or take your kids on educational holidays or pay for a nanny!

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:20:07

* Each teacher has less contact time and more time for planning, admin and CPD. And if you have more time to deliver the curriculum you would also have more time to intervene and work with individual pupils who are failing to keep up*

Absolutely spot on! Agree 100%. Teachers would be very happy with that. HOWEVER it will never happen-too expensive. Schools need double the number of teachers (or at the very least 25% more per school)

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:20:52

'You haven't the least understanding of what is done in the holidays.'

Er, I am a teacher on holiday and would be working if I wasn't procrastinating on Mumsnet!

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:23:29

By and large the kids and parents who are most disadvantaged by longer holidays are the poorest.

Not in my school.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 17:24:26

Are you a primary teacher?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:25:02

'I think they are quite happy to see and treat emergencies-but they are saying 'bugger the ones who are not'-I would. (they are saying it loud and clear in the Times today)'

But it's well known that death rates in hospital increase dramatically over weekends. I'm sure that everyone would prefer to have long holidays and not work unsocial hours but sometimes things have to work on what is best for the general good rather than what suits individuals in one or two professions.

Again, I'm sure there's been all sorts of research on the economic and other advantages of having a full service in the NHS over weekends and it's incredible.

Why aren't decisions made based on the evidence of what works rather than the vested interests of influential figures?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:29:08


fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:29:54

'Not in my school.'

How can you know what each child gets up to in the holidays?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:33:55

'Studies have shown that patients are around 16 per cent per cent more likely to die if they are admitted to hospital at the weekend due to a lack of senior staff.'


So, should NHS hours be organised for the convenience of doctors or patients and taxpayers?

And should schools hours be organised for the convenience of teachers or for pupils, parents and taxpayers?

As with all things there are clearly compromises that can be made but there IS a debate to be had. It's not good enough in this day and age to do things a certain way because that's the way they've always been done.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 17:34:02

Would this be a feasible normalisation?

School year of 4 x 10 week terms.

Pre school drop off supervised by TA from 8.30 am.

Academic subject teachers with contact hours 9 am - 3 pm and 2 hours classroom prep/marking time after school up to 5 pm and no after school hours.

Games, PE, swimming, art, drama, homework, after school clubs 3 - 5 pm.

Teachers have to be physically in school 9 - 5 every day even when children not there except for 5 weeks annual holiday and 1 week INSET.

All standard teaching materials provided online (with teaching notes and teaching schedules by Govt so teachers) do not have to produce their own materials in holidays just do familiarisation work and writing a report on each child assessing their progress and objectives.

My thinking is that surely that schedule would be a 'normal year' and requires no extra working time for most teachers hence same payscale just different but normal working hours.

In secondary schools I presume specialist games, music, art teachers would teach mainly in the 3 - 5 slot but not in mornings.

Some extra resource would be required to deliver the extra activities in the 3 - 5 pm slot and supervise school pick up 5 - 5.30 pm.

Could it work? How much extra would it cost?

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:41:59

God, not 10 weeks again, MoreBeta - primary school children are tired after 6 or so weeks - how much more tired would they be after 10?

All standard teaching materials provided online (with teaching notes and teaching schedules by Govt)

Jeez. You really don't have the slightest understanding how good teaching happens, do you?

This is annoying me - the only two posters banging on about this are a teacher from the private sector and a parent from the same. 17 weeks is a huge amount, yes. Just shave four weeks off and bring it in line with everyone else if it's such a massive problem for you.

I meant academically it isn't a problem for children in my school, fivecandles - I would suggest it's a problem in the private secor because it amounts to about a third of a year off.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:42:21

I think some of those suggestions are excellent.

What is meant by school really needs to change and be more flexible to suit the changing needs of our society.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 17:45:10

Feenie - they already do that amount of time in school. It is not more weeks. Doing 4 x 10 weeks spreads it out more evenly.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 17:45:12

Feenie, I have only moved to the private sector this year after 15 years in state so your jibes are misplaced.

And, once again, it's not really the kids in the private sector who have most to gain is it? It's parents for whom holidays could make the difference between whether or not it makes economic sense for them to work or not and their kids.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 17:51:17

MoreBeta - more than six weeks in a row is a problem re tiredness in KS1 children.

Ten weeks consecutively would be worse!

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 17:52:52

I am not talking about private schools here either. Really I am not.

As it happens my DSs private school does work that schedule I suggested but a slightly shorter school year. They do though run holiday clubs in summer which I accept I have to pay for and it is run by some of the teachers in the school buildings.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 17:55:19


After reading your ridiculous suggestions it makes me glad that my dd is no longer in the school system

How on earth could you make dc stay in school until 5pm. Apparently in secondary school you'd only be able to access non academic subjects between 3- 5 pm as the subject specialist teacher wouldn't be there during the morning.

I can't see too many parents wanting their dc to attend school for so many hours to be honest.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 17:55:23

What about those of us who teach drama?

Standard teaching materials available online is a ridiculous idea since "standard" children do not exist.

Planning has to be done as the school year goes on, taking into account attainment in the previous lesson. Same with marking, assessment, report writing. I couldn't do things like that in the holidays (as you're suggesting)

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 17:58:44

New Zealand KS1 children dont seem to get too tired with a 4 term year.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 18:01:24

morethanpotato - a 9 - 5 school day is quite normal in private schools.

Many state school children increasingly do Kumon or other drama/dance/sport activities after school. It really is not that unusual.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 18:04:10

Of course there are standard teaching materials. School text books and handouts already widely used for example. Teachers already allocate and select and tailor the material to the needs of each child.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:06:08

I teach drama. Do you want me to teach 9-5 or are you taking me out of the curriculum and sidelining me to extra curricular?

It would be far too costly to increase teachers' pay to cover this. We get paid for 1265 hours of directed time across 195 days. You are suggesting, I assume, 5 weeks of paid holiday? And 47 weeks of paid work? So 260 days? Assuming the calculation presented earlier of £110 per day, that's an extra £7000ish per teacher, at least. Not really feasible, is it?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:07:18

FGS, MoreBeta was just making suggestions and asking what might work.

It really does cast teachers in a bad light when they are so defensive and vitriolic when anybody suggests the system might change for good reasons.

How depressing.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 18:11:01


that is private school though and obviously has been made by choice. If the same option was given to state schools and parents chose to finish at 3pm as usual, then couldn't access music and drama.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:11:45

MoreBeta asked if her suggestions might work. She has been given reasons why they wouldn't.

If I could work for 2 hours after school each day, and not have to do anything in the evenings, I would. But teaching can't be done like that. Surely you know that, FiveCandles. How would you feel as the parent of a child whose book didn't get marked because it was 5pm and my working hours were up? What about not getting the end of term report til half way through the holiday because that was when it was written? If you are a teacher then surely you KNOW that it can't be done in regular 9-5 chunks.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 18:13:39

EvilTwins - Hang on. Where are you getting 260 days from?

I thought teachers did preparation work in the holidays already? That is what teachers say they do. I am saying teachers still would do it just the same.

It seems like you are saying you do nothing in holidays NOW so is the 13 weeks really a holiday?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:16:13

Teachers (myself included) are stressed about workload and how much they have to work in the evenings and during holidays.

Working parents are stressed because finding good quality, affordable childcare over school holidays is a nightmare.

A huge number of disadvantaged kids leave school practically illiterate and innumerate.

Many parents complain that their children's individual needs are not catered for in the school system.

Billions are spent on incredible school buildings with amazing facilities that lie unused for 13 weeks of the year.

A number of children (the most disadvantaged) are left unsupervised for long periods of time sometimes getting involved in petty crime and often moving backwards educationally during the summer break.

And some of you honestly can't see any need or way of changing things to help resolve some of these issues?

And what is your motivation for keeping things the same again? Because you and the pupils get tired, unlike, apparently other jobs and kids in other cultures? Because that is the way things have always been?

Honestly, it doesn't reflect well on you.

It's the unwillingness to even debate how things might be improved with children's interests at heart that's so troubling. And yet you bang on about how committed and hard working you are.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:19:06

'If I could work for 2 hours after school each day, and not have to do anything in the evenings, I would. But teaching can't be done like that. '

Of course it could if you had less contact time because you're not rushing to get through things so you can relax for 6 weeks at a time.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:25:01

MoreBeta - teachers in school every day except 5 weeks holiday. I presume paid holiday? So that's 5x52 which is 260 days.

Yes, teachers do prep in the holidays, but there's only so much you can do in advance since planning needs to take into account progress of students. I can't predict that 8 weeks in advance. Similarly, marking and assessment- needs to be done as we go along. Can't be done in handy chunks when the kids aren't in school.

FiveCandles the bottom line is that I matters bugger all what teachers think. No government has ever tried to introduce these changes. I'm not against change, but I am against suggestions being made by people who don't get how it works, and I certainly wouldn't do more hours without appropriate pay. I'm a teacher, not a mug.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:25:22

And while I don't agree that standardised teaching resources and lesson plans would be possible or desirable, I do think that, given less contact time, teachers could work much smarter for the good of the children in that they could work with individual and small groups but also work with other teachers do produce resources collaboratively instead of slaving away individually over the holidays.

I also think there's room for much more individualised and flexible learning e.g. online which would be made easier given a more balanced year.

pollypandemonium Fri 22-Feb-13 18:26:05

Where I live in Scotland, there is a 2 week break in October to allow school children to harvest potatoes.

It is absurd and archaic. How can this be 21st Century Britain? I think each school should be able to set holidays the way they see fit. I'm pretty certain that having regular 3 week breaks is far better than the long summer short winter holidays.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:26:21

Less contact time? Great. How will that be paid for? More teachers? How will schools pay for that? You live in cloud cuckoo land.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:31:34

'No government has ever tried to introduce these changes.'

This must be a figment of my imagination then!

'I'm not against change, but I am against suggestions being made by people who don't get how it works'

I think I can safely say that I do get how it works but, I also think it's important to recognize that schools don't exist in a bubble. We are part of society and should help that society function as best we and it can.

The attitude of some posters here is that working parents are some sort of pesky intruders when obviously we should be working with them for the education and welfare of their kids.

If parents don't understand how education works then that's a failing on our part isn't it? And if teachers are prioritiising our own convenience over what works best for kids and society as a whole then I think they probably chose the wrong vocation.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 18:31:53

EvilTwins - you keep moving the goalposts on what the working year is for a teacher.

What is it in your view or even your experience?

I am not arguing for more hours and no pay. I dont want teachers working 8 am - 9pm and then flopping in holidays. I want a more 'normal' year.

cricketballs Fri 22-Feb-13 18:32:41

read through this thread with great interest and as I expected it turned into a teacher bashing and "we get 13 weeks holiday so we should be grateful" tone...
as another poster pointed out (I apologise in advance for shoutingwink)


What other profession who only worked part of the year would have demands that they worked for free in their own time when they are not being paid? We have no choice as to when we work, when we take a holiday, taking the odd day off work for a delivery etc...and this is for professionals who have not only gained a good degree but also a post grad qualification...my DS gets treated better than that in his PT chip shop job!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:34:26

EvilTwins, are you always so negative?

FGS, it is depressing that teachers should be so blindly resistant to even debating change.

I'd like to think that we should be the first to embrace and pass on skills of evaluation, research, debate, new ideas, considering improvement...

cricketballs Fri 22-Feb-13 18:36:22

the suggestions who have give five aren't without merit; I would welcome less contact time in order to plan/mark etc - but where would the money come from to pay for more teachers to be employed?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:38:08

'I dont want teachers working 8 am - 9pm and then flopping in holidays. I want a more 'normal' year.'

That's what I want too and I am a teacher. My kids are often in aftercare until 5 when I'm still at work anyway and then my dp has to take responsibility for childcare during at least half of the holidays while they're awake. When they're asleep I'm working most evenings until between 10pm and midnight.

I'd prefer it if I could work until 5 pm every day and have less holiday if it meant I would get evenings back and holidays were really holidays.

I'd also love the time to feel as though I was doing my job properly in terms of having the time to plan and work with individual students and small groups.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:40:09

MoreBeta. Teachers' directed time is 1265 over 195 days. That's not me shifting goalposts, that's what the Pay & Conditions document says.

Obviously teachers work more hours than that, but those are the number of hours my HT can direct me for- this includes parents' evenings, open evening etc etc. That's what I get paid for. If you want me to work 9-5, 47 weeks per year then give m 5 weeks paid holiday, you are directing me for 260 paid hours.

FiveCandles - you are a teacher, so you must know that the job can't be done in regular daily chunks, and that sometimes it's necessary to put in extra time to get a particular task completed and then sometimes you can leave on the bell and not have to do anything that evening. As a teacher, I enjoy the autonomy.

You seem to think that parents are more important than kids- I for one would not want my 6 yr olds to be in school til 5 every day, even if they're doing music/sport or whatever.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:43:58

FiveCandles - I'm not negative. I just disagree with you.

You haven't given me any solutions to the issue of where the money would come from to pay for teachers having less contact time. I would LOVE less contact time. On an average day, I don't get time to eat or go to the loo. Not being negative though. I love my job.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:44:24

But, ironically, my kids ARE in school until 5 every day because so am I to fit in all the teaching so, in theory, everyone can relax over the holidays (in fact I'm still marking work via email so it's not even the case that all the kids are relaxing).

I don't think parents are more important than kids. I think we all need to work together and it's a mistake to see any one group parents, kids, teachers as separate. I cannot stand the attitude of some teachers towards parents (very evident on this thread) where people say that you shouldn't have had kids if you find childcare difficult.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 18:45:29

fivecaandles - how could your job be changed or made easier so that you didnt have to work so late in school term but still teach the same number of chikldren to the same standard?

I suggested standard curriculum, teacher notes, teaching materials to relieve you of the burden of producing it but you and other teacherss say it cant be done.

My children have text books and hand outs that clearly the whole class uses. I can't see why the Govt couldnt give all teachers these materials in a pack. It woulD cost money to produce but at least every teacher would not be producing their own. It must waste millions of teacher hours doing that every year?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:46:03

Evil, MoreBEta's (good) point is that most of us are working beyond directed time (and therefore unpaid) over the holidays ANYWAY so why not change the school year to reflect that?

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:48:12

Yes, I get that, but it can't be done like that. There is too much that can't be done during the time when kids aren't there. Or rather, too much that has to be done whilst the kids ARE there.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:50:24

'You haven't given me any solutions to the issue of where the money would come from to pay for teachers having less contact time.'

How about from making Starbucks pay its taxes? What do you want me to say?

I think, like government grants for 3 year olds, there would be an enormous advantage to the economy from spreading the school year such that it would be worth the extra investment. Not to mention the advantage academically (which translates to the economy) and the savings from dealing with kids who get involved in petty crime - it's widely beleived that the riots from a couple of years ago (which cost millions) wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for the school holidays.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 18:51:21

EvilTwins - I think you are being obtuse. You know perfectly well what I am asking.

How many total hours do you work per year now. I know you work more than 1265 hours over 195 days now.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:52:38

'There is too much that can't be done during the time when kids aren't there'


If I had another few hours at school each week of non contact time I'd be a much more effective teacher.

It would be bloody marvellous if I could get my hands on individual kids without taking them out of lessons during the normal school week as well.

I don't believe there are any teachers who would disagree with that.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 18:55:12

I would still be in teaching Fivecandles if it could be run as you suggest. It never will be, there is no money. I didn't think you were are primary teacher where you have to get them all changed - go to the hall for PE - get back - hurry them all to get changed and start immediately on maths- hurry them through the door because you are on playground duty and hope that a TA will bring you a coffee because otherwise you won't get one- get back in- take off your coat and go straight into Science , which only works because you got all the equipment ready before the day started- and relentlessly onwards.

On doctors- the exact wording from the BMA was 'the NHS has more urgent priorities than catering for the convenience of the middle class'. If I was a doctor I would be quite happy to see emergencies, but if someone wants a typhoid injection for a holiday- or non urgent problem- they can jolly well take time off work and come in normal hours!

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:55:27

MoreBeta - standard teaching materials won't work for a number of reasons. One is that lessons need to be planned for specific children, specific cohorts- differentiated in all sorts of ways. Secondly, not all teachers are the same and it makes sense to play to your strengths. Thirdly, the autonomy of planning lessons and selecting material is part of the joy of teaching. I LIKE choosing what to teach and how to teach it. I plan my lessons for my classes, based on my knowledge of them. At the moment I have 3 year 9 group. Each is studying a different play, as each has a different ability level and I want to be able to challenge each group and each individual. Also, adapting someone else's material is, IME, just as time consuming as creating your own, and in some cases, more so.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 18:56:18

MoreBeta I would say I work about 15 hours each week over and above direct time. I probably work at least the equivalent of 1/3 of each school holiday.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 18:58:29

FiveCandles what I meant is that the bulk of my work, as a secondary teacher, is planning and assessment. If I was working for 8 weeks when the kids weren't in school, which was the suggestion, then couldn't do that, as so much of it has to be done as you go along- planning the next lesson after the previous one etc. Those 8 weeks wouldn't necessarily help reduce term-time workload.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:01:29

'there is no money'. That's ridiculous. The government allocates money according to its priorities. It had enough money to bomb the Hell out of Libya.

'Figures released by the Government in response to questions in Parliament show that it costs £35,000 to keep a Tornado GR4 in the air for an hour and £70,000 for a Typhoon, taking into account the cost of fuel, staffing and maintenance.'

It's also the case that it could gain millions from tax avoiders like Starbucks.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 19:02:20

MoreBeta I guess I work about the same as FiveCandles has stated. It's not directed time. But sometimes it's four hours one evening, none the next, sometimes it's all afternoon and evening on Sunday. They point being that you can't chunk it down into convenient slots. Too much of it needs to be completed in one go- if I did an extra 2 hours after 3 every day, then left whatever we unfinished, unfinished, I would run into problems.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 19:03:22

FiveCandle you really DO live in cloud cuckoo land.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:08:17

Exotic, not all doctors are GPs. What is lost (financially and otherwise) by hospital doctors not working at weekends? At its most stark you are more likely to die if you have to go to hospital at the weekend because of this.

It's interesting that you say if you were a doctor you wouldn't want to work at weekends but I'd like to think that decisions about our taxes and public institutions are not made on the basis of what a particular group of employees would prefer but on the basis of what is best for all of us.

Doctors should not dictate hospital hours on the basis of their personal convenience and neither should teachers dictate school hours for this reason.

Surely that's the point of having goverment - it's supposed to balance all our needs and spend our money wisely. Ho, ho!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:11:10

'If I was working for 8 weeks when the kids weren't in school, which was the suggestion'

I must have missed that. That's the opposite of what I'm suggesting. I'm arguing for more non contact time for all teachers each week and, actually, more time for kids to consolidate and work one to one with teachers too. This would be possible if some of the hours that teachers ALREADY work during the holiday were added on to the normal school week so that there would be less holiday but also less teaching time for each teacher each week.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 19:11:12

The idea that if Starbucks paid their taxes it would go into education is laughable. Everything boils down to money. Hell will freeze over before schools get double the teachers so that terms can be longer and the work load can be down to a reasonable level.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:12:37

'you really DO live in cloud cuckoo land.'

I'm sorry but I don't get why it's OK to argue that it's find to preserve an academic year based on medieval harvests but it's cloud cuckoo land to suggest change based on the academic, social and economic needs of our society as it is NOW.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 19:17:27

The cloud cuckoo land was in response to you saying that there is money. The current government have no interest in investing in education and therefore it's fanciful to suggest that they would finance anything like you're suggesting.

My argument about doing stuff when the kids aren't in is response to MoreBeta's post about teachers doing 9-5 all year except for 5 weeks' holiday, but that students have 4x10 week terms. I don't disagree with your suggestion about less contact time, but don't think it's realistic as the government would never finance it.

cricketballs Fri 22-Feb-13 19:18:24

evil - I also can only comment on secondary and I fully agree with everything you say; you can't plan that far ahead...

For instance, you teach/mark books and it is obvious that we need to go over something again in a different way asap and therefore your planning changes; different groups/children have different needs which don't become apparent until you are actually teaching them and understand what works with your different students with each different topic.

I also have periods where I am working until past midnight and periods where I don't do anything when I get home but once again I will point out the point of this thread is not about teacher basing but about the educational value of the holidays....children of all ages need time off to be children/teenagers and to relax in order to grow as people not just as robots

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:18:46

exotic, the government spends money according to its priorities. Why is it the case that it's cloud cuckoo land to suggest more non contact time for teachers but nobody says the money 'isn't there' for the olympics opening ceremony that cost 27 million?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:21:43

'The current government have no interest in investing in education'

Well, that's not the case either. Millions have been invested in the academy programme.

It is not the case that there is no money to invest. It is the case that this government in particular is investing the money very poorly.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 19:23:38

Yes, the government has invested poorly. Your suggestion of more teachers with less contact time is sensible and therefore not something I imagine the government would go for. wink

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:28:01

'but don't think it's realistic as the government would never finance it.'

You see, if somebody had come to me a couple of years ago and said they had a great idea for a new Maharishi or Steiner school and do you think the governemnet would fund it to the tune of a few million I would have thought that was 'fanciful' or 'cloud cuckoo' or 'unrealistic' but welcome to the world of free schools.

Why do we seem accept this sort of squadering of public money but assume in this defeatist way that we shouldn't even ask for teachers to have less contact time?

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 19:28:39

Whoever it was that suggested teaching academic subjects from 9-3 and then sport/drama etc from 3-5, have you been in many state primaries recently? We have 580 pupils with one small field, one hall and a playground. How would you coordinate 18 classes (plus 2 nursery classes-would you like the 3 year olds to operate your 8-5 plan as well, after all-their parents might have jobs to go to) using these facilities so the teachers can be marking uninterrupted in their classrooms?

The other point made about more textbooks-again, have you been in a state primary? We are not allowed to use text books or workbooks and worksheets are heavily frowned on. Ideas are supposed to be spontaneously made up, tailor-made for each group.

I can't see government produced text-books being made any time soon!

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 19:28:58

I think that more money to pay teachers so that a school could have more would be an excellent idea-but it will never happen-I could bet my life on it!

nobody says the money 'isn't there' for the olympics opening ceremony that cost 27 million?

They will always find it when they want to. If they had saved the 27million it wouldn't have gone into education. There are other things that are equally deserving-care of the elderly for a start.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 19:29:22

And they don't get it either!

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 19:30:41

OK I am getting lost in the welter of contact hours, directed hours, unpaid holiday or paid holiday.

What I am taking away from this is that the majority of teachers and their unions are just not willing to think about changing how they work and when they work to bring themselves into line with the rest of the economy and society.

Parents will wrongly conclude that it is because you just want to keep your 13 weeks holiday. I know you dont get 13 weeks holiday but one day, change will be forced on you and it will not be to your benefit and almost certainly unfair.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 19:31:51

I don't accept it, I think it's awful. I don't have any faith in the government. That's why I say it's fanciful!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:33:09

I think some of you are getting too locked into details which were only suggestions and are massively missing the bigger point which is that the school year is ripe for review and there could be enormous advantages to this for everyone.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 19:34:42

Except it won't happen, and that is nothing to do with teachers' attitudes and everything to do with money!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 19:35:33

Must go anyway because I'm neither relaxing nor working effectively!

It has been an interesting discussion and I think it's an important debate to be had.

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 19:41:24

Rather than teachers being negative and refusing to adapt, it sounds more like there are a handful of grumpy parents who are pissed off and bitter that they have to organise childcare for their own children when they think teachers owe them a living. These same people are then coming up with extremely unworkable schemes to try to make this happen and then when they are told how unrealistic their plans are-have a little strop and say teachers are stuck in their ways!!

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 19:44:28

I do get 13 weeks holiday a year and it was part of the terms and conditions I have signed up for . I went into teaching because I wanted more time with my family . If that is threatened it is not a job for me.

I am allowed to make that choice and it does not make me any less of a teacher .

Strictly1 Fri 22-Feb-13 19:46:14

If teaching is so wonderful why not join us? I love my job but it does make me cross how little we are regarded as professionals. I am not a childminder!

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 19:51:50

letseatgrandma - "We are not allowed to use text books or workbooks and worksheets are heavily frowned on. Ideas are supposed to be spontaneously made up, tailor-made for each group."

Are you really telling me that state primary schools don't use text books and every teacher has to effectivley write their own text books for every class every year.

Really, standardised materials which allow teachers latitude to pick easier or harder work for different abilities has to be the way to go.

I just can't believe only private schools use text books.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 19:53:28

I don't think that some people want children or they expect their children to be looked after for free. Prehaps schools should offer free overnight boarding as well as 52 weeks care. Afterall .... blah! blah! little jonny's mother needs time for mumsnet to work blah! blah! Ofcourse Jo taxpayer should pay for everything...

Having a children is both a financial and an emotional responsiblity. End of.

Personally I would like existing playschemes to be adapted so that there is wrap around care. I do not want my children shoe horned into more school.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 19:59:55

Arisbottle - so you do not work at all in holidays while some teachers insist they do?

In effect you regard it as a part time job but others insist it is full time.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 20:02:56

Arisbottle teaches secondary, MoreBeta.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 20:04:31

Are you really telling me that state primary schools don't use text books and every teacher has to effectivley write their own text books for every class every year.

Absolutely. It's called teaching.

I just can't believe only private schools use text books.

I just can't believe you pay thousands for that! grin

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 20:07:44

I just can't believe you pay thousands for that! grin

grin grin grin

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 20:13:41

I do very very little in the holidays. During term time I work between 7am and 6pm and then 9 until midnight Monday to Thursday and 7am until 6pm on Friday and a few hours on a Sunday. I do not regard that as part time but I am simply not willing to do that and then work on the holidays .

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 20:28:21

As long as it gets done, it is nobody's business WHEN it gets done, which is another reason I dislike the 9-5 47 weeks of the year suggestion. Personally, I get to work at 8.15 after dropping my kids at breakfast club at their school, leave between 4 & 5, depending on what's going on, then work 2-4 hours in the evening, again, depending on what I need to do. On Fridays, I leave on the bell and do no work in the evenings. I never work on Saturdays, but do between 6 & 8 hours most Sunday afternoon/evenings. I probably spend 1/3 to 1/2 of school holidays working, depending on Childcare. As I said, the autonomy is one the things I enjoy most about the job. When I was doing the school play, before half term, I was in school from 8am til 10.30pm for a week- no one made me though.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 20:58:53

Feenie/letseat - erm .....serioulsy.... don't you think you might have more time to teach if you weren't writing your own materials?

<no knows why private schools get more pupils into Russel Group university - the teachers are actually teaching NOT writing text books>

lljkk Fri 22-Feb-13 20:59:45

I thought it was common knowledge, you have to pay 4 weeks holiday in addition to what they work, as long as their regular weeks are more than a certain threshold (33 weeks maybe?). Permanent, hourly paid, not SE, obviously. We had to work it out carefully for preschool workers. I honestly can't be bothered to google for more specific evidence, but maybe one of these will seem compelling:




to quote from last "I think they take 39 weeks actually worked, add 4 wks hols, add pub hol days then reduce hourly rate 44.5/52 iyswim) "

What we did was take the 39 weeks, add 4 weeks, calculate the total hours & salary assuming 43 weeks at usual hours, then divide by 12 to come up with monthly figures. It was all in the contracts. I didn't make that system up, it was long-standing standard contract.

I'm only bank staff & school are deducting NI & tax which is amusing, I'll get to claim most (?all) it back in April.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 21:01:50

MoreBeta - I have been a teacher for 15 years and have never taught from a text book. I have far more skill and imagination.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 21:05:36

EvilTwins - is this 'text book writing' going on in state secondary schools as well?

<waits in trepidation>

scrablet Fri 22-Feb-13 21:11:03

To agree with some previous posters, those who want the holidays changing, really are not arguing with the teachers. We really want what is best for the children we (care for and ) teach, and if different holidays worked better, teachers are not likely to oppose this.
Whatever rhetoric Gove might spout, if the Govt decided to change term length there is precious little teachers might do about it. He may have talked about it, it has not been brought up as Green, white or even slightly off white paper yet.
The holidays are not there for teachers' benefit, we are not clinging on to them for dear life, despite loads of threads like this and suggestions mentioned in the media, it is never actually put forward as an actual means for change. So no one votes, has a three line whip etc, but it is still teachers' fault nothing changes.
Not sure how that works,

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 21:12:57

I don't really know what you mean. I teach Performing Arts and yes, I create some of my own materials. I don't write text books since I don't use that kind of material. Other depts use text books. There is a HUGE difference between creating your own teaching materials to suit yourself and your classes and unnecessarily writing text books.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 21:16:34

I rarely use textbooks, I don't rewrite new material every year though . My pupils have textbooks that they use for homework.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 21:30:27

I honestly can't be bothered to google for more specific evidence, but maybe one of these will seem compelling

No, actually, they aren't - they seem all to refer to additional staff or part time teachers, not full time. I don't think you're right, have never seen anything in Finance meetings to substantiate it, and can't find anything on the net either.

*letseatgrandma - "We are not allowed to use text books or workbooks and worksheets are heavily frowned on. Ideas are supposed to be spontaneously made up, tailor-made for each group."

Are you really telling me that state primary schools don't use text books and every teacher has to effectivley write their own text books for every class every year.*

Precisely. We produce our own materials, tailored to the class, the individual children, the time of year, the rest of the curriculum, etc. That is what we are trained and paid for. I don't think it happens in secondary though. A few years ago our Pyramid secondary kindly donated all its worn-out French text books to us when they bought some more up-to-date texts. Absolutely useless and annoyingly patronising. Goes to explain why secondary teachers don't work through the holidays, perhaps?

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 21:37:44

No we make our own resources although we work in teams to do so. So if there are five teachers in a department we will split the planning between us,which I suspect is the difference between us. We may then tweak resources each year or tweak the department resources to suit our own teaching style or class but there is no need to keep remaking the wheel.

To comstantly make resources year after year would be an inefficient waste of my time and I would just refuse to do it.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 21:38:29

"Are you really telling me that state primary schools don't use text books and every teacher has to effectivley write their own text books for every class every year. "

No. We rarely use textbooks and nobody is "writing textbooks" either, what a ridiculous suggestion.

We teach. We create resources according to the needs and abilities of our class. That is how teaching works nowadays. That is what we are trained to do.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 21:38:57

What subject, Arisbottle?

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 21:41:08

<now knows why private schools get more pupils into Russel Group university - the teachers are actually teaching NOT writing text books>

That's not because of textbooks, MoreBeta, that's because of selection, parental interest, and without having at least ten in a class with their own social workers.


Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 21:42:01

Mainly history.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 21:46:37

LaBelle - I teach secondary and I work in the holidays. Primaries don't have the monopoly on work, you know hmm

You do, however, have the monopoly on patience, and I greatly admire you for it. Give mea stroppy teenager any day grin

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 21:50:51

I suspect primary teachers may work harder, certainly that me. Having said that every teacher on MN seems to work harder than me.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 21:52:05

I write text books (that are published) but ironically rarely use them. Text books might be more appropriate for some subjects rather than others - maths? science? modern languages? I would say most teachers use a pick n' mix of resources taken or adapted from text books and websites, department resources or resources shared between colleagues and their own original material. I do think that MoreBeta has a point that there is too much reinventing the wheel and too little collaboration or building on existing material/expertise in teaching and this is partly because there isn't the time for discussion or networking or cpd that there should be.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 21:53:32

Yep, Arisbottle - times that by 11 subjects!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:05:09

And by the way, I can't stand the smug, self-congratulatory tone of certain teachers on this thread. Great, if you think you've got all the answers and are brilliant teachers providing a brilliant service in spite of these pesky working parents and kids who you don't mind leaving to their own devices for 13 weeks of the year, but in my experience really good teachers are reflective and open to change and it is the case that many kids leave the education system with woeful knowledge, qualifications and skills so there is plenty of evidence that things could be better. It's also the case that the cost and accessibility of quality childcare over the holidays is a significant barrier for many working parents and particularly women. You would have thought that teachers, above all, would want to do what they could to rectify this.

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 22:09:36

What EXACTLY do you want teachers to do to rectify it'? You seem to be confusing teachers and government ministers, FiveCandles. I do not have the power to make changes. I can't change term times or the quality of childcare. I can teach your child. That's my job. Perhaps you should write to the prime minister.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:11:38

Obviously we are dealing with discussion here. It's the attitudes - defensive, resistant and downright unpleasant to working parents at times - that need to change. Our first priority is to the children we teach.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 22:11:55

It's also the case that the cost and accessibility of quality childcare over the holidays is a significant barrier for many working parents and particularly women. You would have thought that teachers, above all, would want to do what they could to rectify this.

And it's this weird connecting of dots that I cannot reconcile - by your logic, I as a teacher ought to be solving all the rest of society's ills aswell, merely because I am a teacher?

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:14:25

I am not sure how I am being unpleasant to working parents, I am one. All I have said is that if they want teachers to give up some of their holidays I would not want to do the job anymore. Teaching is not like becoming the Pope, you are allowed to leave. In fact even Popes leave now. grin

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 22:15:45

My priority is to the children I teach. In my school, during term time. No matter how fond I am of them, I am not responsible for them in school holidays. In holidays, I am responsible for my OWN children.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:16:29

I think if teachers were less protective of their holidays (at the same time as moaning about how hard they work during them) and more open to working with the parents whose children they teach that would be enormously helpful to everyone. That's all.

This is also the case for doctors where their unwillingness to work during weekends means you are 16% more likely to die if admitted to hospital during a weekend.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:16:34

It isn't a teachers job to provide childcare. Children can't take longer terms- they need a rest. If schools are to be open longer then they need alternatives- lots of sport, drama, art, cooking, gardening- workshops of all sorts. They need different staff - a good money earner for students- but it has to be paid for- it won't come cheap.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:18:33

As a parent I don't want my children at school all hours- I want the freedom of holidays- time to do nothing- time to be bored and unorganised- time to use imagination.

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 22:18:47

My priority is to the children I teach. In my school, during term time. No matter how fond I am of them, I am not responsible for them in school holidays. In holidays, I am responsible for my OWN children.

Absolutely-I totally agree.

Why are teachers seemingly held constantly responsible for the problems of today's society?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:18:53

It is not right that public money and working hours are allocated on the basis of the way things have always been done or to what is convenient for certain public sector workers as opposed to the public who are funding the workers.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:19:49

I do not moan about how hard I work in my holidays, but I am protective of my holidays. That was the deal when I signed up, I work long hours during term time and balance that with a large demanding family and in return I get to do bugger all for 13 weeks. I do not want to work any more than that. If other teachers are happy to do so, that is their call.

Feenie Fri 22-Feb-13 22:20:30

So stand for parliament, fivecandles - you're not going to achieve anything wrongly berating a set of hardworking teachers in the internet.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:20:39

I apologise, I am slightly leaping in at the end of the thread without reading it fully.

As a teacher, I do have an issue with the long summer holidays. It has seemed to me that it is a case of 'to them that hath, more shall be given'. Children of well-educated, reasonably well-off families get things out of the long summer holidays that enhance their lives - travel, conversation with parents, stimulating holiday clubs or childcare, time with adults, access to books and paints and models and parks. Children from other backgrounds get none of these things,so the inequalities that as teachers we spend so much time addressing in school time - interventions, daily reading, targeted plans - are widened during the holidays.

I don't quite know how we address this, but in utopia, some type of school- based, cheap holiday activities run by qualified staff but restricted to those on low incomes, or a redistributioon of holidays within the year [the difference is not so marked after the shorter holidays], or a splitting of the long holidays to give some 'study weeks' in between might be ways forward.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:21:08

As long as the public fund the workers properly it wouldn't be a problem. The country couldn't afford to fund longer hours and shorter holidays for teachers.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 22:22:34

I don't think that the tax payer should be paying for free full time childcare for every child in the land. Paying for childcare is the parent's problem and not the schools or the tax payers. There is already help through childcare vouchers and child tax credits for paying for childcare.

I would rather that any extra money goes to children who need help with basic numeracy or literacy. Teachers are there to educate NOT provide childcare.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:23:15

I think that most teachers put up with the work load and not having time for their own children because they have the holidays when they can relax and enjoy time with their family. Take that away and they wouldn't do it.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:23:17

I do not particularly want my children in school any more time, although I accept that I am lucky to have a job that enables me to be with them. If I did not teach any more I would just do something part time or work for myself. Giving children time for hobbies and to just be , is important to me.

If it was genuinely better for the children to have more time in school then I would not want to say that schools should not change simply because I do not want to work any more. But I would leave the profession or look for a very part time teaching post.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:24:15

That is exactly how I feel exotic.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:24:19

(I find it interesting that a school I know of in a deprived area, trying to improve the educational outcomes for its students, runs study days and workshops for almost all its pupils during the different holidays - including e.g. a drama / music / sport fortnight for Y6s coming up into Y7 over the summer holidays. Perhaps there are many schools quietly doing things to address possible educational and social disadvantages of long holidays but just in a quiet way?)

tiggytape Fri 22-Feb-13 22:24:58

I agree on this. A lot of inspirational, talented and very academic people become teachers because they love to help children learn and appreciate the terms and conditions that teachers enjoy. They are often people who could command much higher salaries in other sectors but choose this path because it offers them different rewards and perks such as long holidays with their own children.
I think any move to making teaching a 9-5, 40 weeks per year occupation in order to utilise them more for childcare would result in totally different people perusing teaching as a career and I honestly don't think it would be a change for the better in terms of the type of people that would appeal to.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 22:24:58

fivecandles - so write a letter to the government if that is how you feel.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:24:59

'It isn't a teachers job to provide childcare.'

Duh! Nobody has suggested that. There are much more sophisticated and responsive models that are possible such as staggered terms, summer schools tailored towards particular interests or interventions etc.

Why are you so extraordinarily unimaginative. It is very depressing

'Children can't take longer terms- they need a rest. '

But that's a very naive and self-centred view. Don't you understand that some kids don't get 'a rest'. They are either left to their own devices and may end up in a lot of trouble (it's well documented that both petty crime and accidents go up during school holidays) or are put into childcare (which may be expensive and poor quality). That's what I find objectionable: the sense that everybody else has the same choices and experience as teachers do as regards holidays. The inability to step into the shoes of a working parent for whom childcare over the holidays is the difference between whether going to work makes economic sense or not.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:26:26

And what's so special about British children and teachers that they need 13 weeks of rest where other kids and teachers and professions don't? It's baffling.

It's the sense of going along with the way things always have been without question and without listening to reasons for change that's so frustrating.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:28:40

I think that there is a huge difficulty in understanding the function of schools. Children are the responsibility of their parents. Schools are there to provide education in child friendly hours. It happens that parents can work in that time because schools are free. However it is not childcare- it was never supposed to be. Childcare is the parent's responsibility. I can't see why it should be offered free- unless your place of work wants to offer the service. Teachers have to get childcare before and after school.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:28:53

'The country couldn't afford to fund longer hours and shorter holidays for teachers.'

Grrr - but most of us teachers have said that we work for up to a third of the holidays anyway. Many of us would be open to more balance.

I don't believe that teachers are so special that they need 10 times more holiday than any other profession but I do believe they would benefit from a reduced work load which would be possible if the school year was more balanced.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:29:32

Let us say, for example, that school chooses to stay open for 3 weeks of the summer holiday, providing optional workshops / study days for those who want to avail themselves of it. A mixture of school staff, specialist staff and playworkers could run such weeks, using school facilities for e.g. art, ict, drama, sport, but also involving some 'academic input' if desired - maths workshops, reading groups, whatever.

It might be a better way of using e.g. FSM or pupil premium money than is currenbtly happening....

EvilTwins Fri 22-Feb-13 22:30:23

You're berating the wrong people.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:30:58

And the country can weirdly afford 27 million for the Olympics opening ceremony and god knows how many million to open free schools for Steiner and Maharashi and so on.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:32:29

As a teacher, I feel uncomfortable with the idea that teachers UNIQUELY deserve time with their children via long holidays.

I am sure that almost every working parent would love long holidays with their children - but only teachers get them.....

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:32:45

I don't think that teachers would mind listening to alternatives if they knew that it wasn't going to be a question of squeezing the maximum hours for the least money.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:37:58

The 27 million would not have gone to education if we hadn't hosted the Olympics. Personally I would have no problem working for more weeks of the year if the rest of the hours were sensible. I would willingly do it if I could get to school at 8am, work through to 6pm and then go home and leave it all,and if a weekend was all mine and I could keep on top of the work that way. I can't see it happening.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:38:04

Exactly teacher. I don't know how teachers justify their need for 'a rest' and need for 6 weeks with their children over and above brain surgeons or nurses or supermarket check out workers.

And if you're saying you work during the holidays anyway then where's the objection to changing the school year to reflect this?

I think it would be one thing if there was any academic, social or economic benefit for the holidays being what they are but there isn't. The holidays are organised according to medieval harvesting.

So the only possible justification is 'because it suits us and our family life' and although I hope that would be taken into account in any review I don't think it's a fair way to allocate such a significant amount of tax payers money. Any more than it would be for civil servants or nurses.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:38:21

I agree, teachers alone should not be able to spend quality time with their children. However for me being able to have quality time with my children was the very reason why I became a teacher.

Of course I could be a really shit teacher and therefore no great loss. I am equally certain that lots of other people who could do the job as well as me would take my place if I left.

But I am allowed to say that I would not want to lose my holidays and should not be berated for it.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 22:39:11

" Nobody has suggested that. There are much more sophisticated and responsive models that are possible such as staggered terms, summer schools tailored towards particular interests or interventions etc."

Plenty of summer schools exist. The only problem is that parents have to pay for them. Having children is expensive and the costs of childcare can be antisipated.

Many teachers are working parents. Contray to popular belief teachers don't take a vow of celibacy or don't have childcare issues themselves. Believe or not many teachers use childminders, nurseries, after school care or even holiday clubs! Working in a school is not child friendly during term time or if you have a sick child.

Schools need to attract the best people to be teachers.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 22:39:52

I had never thought about it that way.

The fact that teachers can pile up their working hours in term and then take 13 weeks off to look after their own children means that other parents are unable to work in low wage jobs because they can't afford childcare is a true fact. I wonder how big an impact on the economy, crime and the educational attainment of children in poor families that has?

Its easy to see why there is so much resentment about how the school year works and why it tends to be expressed as resentment about teachers long holidays. Its not that parents think teachers should work longer or harder.

They just resent being told that teachers have an untouchable work year that is so out of step with the rest of the working world that it effectively prevents some parents going to work. This is especially so in poor families that really need the extra income.

That is quite troubling for society.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:41:00

I am not saying that teachers deserve a rest any more than anyone else. But I am saying that I agreed to do the job because I understood that I was getting a certain number of weeks holiday with my children. Therefore it is quite understandable if I no longer want to do the job if my conditions are drastically altered.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:41:10

exotic, my point as I'm sure you realize, is that the money is there when the government thinks the cause is worthwhile. In my belief this cause is more worthwhile than the Olympics opening ceremony and free schools. I have written to my MP but my point is that teachers need to fight for their kids and ensure they have the best education, welfare and opportunties and I think holiday reform is part of that.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:41:21

When I started teaching I didn't get TAs, there were no computers, everything was written by hand and yet the job was much more enjoyable and you didn't have the long hours. I wouldn't mind if it was better but it isn't- my old pupils seem to be doing pretty well in life.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:42:21

Ah, you see Arisbottle, the reason I became a teacher was to make a difference - the maximum difference possible - to the children that I teach. And I have perhaps spent too long working with the type of children who do worse than nothing during the long holidays to think that 'doing my best for them' should mean me having 6 weeeks off....

I would only suggest that if some schools move in this way that all should - then the 'teachers' childcare problem' will obviously go away as all schools would no longer have the long holidays to cover...

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 22:42:35

"Personally I would have no problem working for more weeks of the year if the rest of the hours were sensible. I would willingly do it if I could get to school at 8am, work through to 6pm and then go home and leave it all,and if a weekend was all mine and I could keep on top of the work that way. I can't see it happening."


heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 22:44:09

"teachers need to fight for their kids and ensure they have the best education, welfare and opportunties and I think holiday reform is part of that."

Nope. Sorry. My job is to teach.

Not to right all the wrongs of society and be a warrior for social justice. That's what MPs are for.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:44:30

Outside of MN I do not think I have ever experienced any kind of resentment about my job, although of course they could all just be waiting until I leave the room.

It makes no difference to your children whether I work 14 hours a day during term time and then nothing in the holiday or if I work a day hour day and then do my planning and marking in the holiday. In fact that is not true, because I work such long hours my students get their work back quickly and therefore they benefit from the way I work. They also have a teacher in the room who absolutely adores her job, that counts for a lot.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:44:53

But heggiehog, there are so many other jobs where an 8-6 life with no work to take home and a free weekend is an impossible pipe dream - but none of them get 13 weeks' holiday.....

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:44:55

The bottom line is that if you take away the holidays then teachers will leave- many of the best teachers. Many have left already- I have - because I wanted a life.

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 22:45:21

And what's so special about British children and teachers that they need 13 weeks of rest where other kids and teachers and professions don't? It's baffling.

But many other countries have more than this!!

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:45:27

'But I am allowed to say that I would not want to lose my holidays and should not be berated for it.'

I don't think I am berating you for it. It makes absolute sense for teachers and doctors to protect a perk of the job just as you would fight against pension reform and pay cuts. My point is that it's up to governments to make these decisions so that individuals don't have to but I would like to think that teachers would be open to working with working parents and also open to changes that would ultimately benefit sutdents and society.

I suppose that I would hope that in an ideal world if teachers themselves led the change they could make it advantageous for themselves as well as the other people involved.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 22:45:57

And teachers are there to teach- not to fight for government money.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:48:30

' I wonder how big an impact on the economy, crime and the educational attainment of children in poor families that has?'

It's huge. This is largely where I'm coming from (and frankly I'm disappointed that so many teachers don't even seem to acknowledge or care about this).

This is why I think changing the school year would be an investment to the economy and in all sorts of other ways.

The govt chose to introduce free nursery care for 3 year olds for the same reason so it's not 'cloud cuckoo land'. Governments can and should act altruistically but they also understand that there are huge, huge social and econnomic advantages to parents being able to work (hence tax credits etc).

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Feb-13 22:48:30


Thank you for your post - for taking the time to step back from the minutiae and look at the issue clearly.

Is it better for some teachers to leave their jobs, or for many people who can only earn minimum wage to be unable to work at all because teachers take the holidays that they do? It's not clear cut, is it?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:52:04

'My job is to teach.'

But there are very good arguments to say that you would be a better teacher if the school holidays were structured around children's academic, social and economic needs rather than medieval harvests.

If you knew that computers would help your kids learn or a particular resource you would fight for those wouldn't you? How is this different?

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 22:52:22

"But heggiehog, there are so many other jobs where an 8-6 life with no work to take home and a free weekend is an impossible pipe dream - but none of them get 13 weeks' holiday....."

Why is it always about making comparisons? Teachers don't make the rules. Those people are free to retrain and become teachers if they wish. If they don't then presumably they accept the terms and conditions of their job.

As a teacher I accept my terms and conditions. I accept that I will work 8am-6 or 7pm in school during the week then also do work in the evenings and weekends...but get unpaid "holidays" in recompense.

If those unpaid "holidays" were taken away I would leave teaching tomorrow, though I love my job very much.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:52:25

I wanted to make a difference, but being able to make a difference and have time with my family was an irresistable combination. Csrtainly one that was worth taking a huge paycut for. If I left teaching I could continue making a difference and having time with my family, teachers do not have the monopoly on doing good.

I do not think tha you have to martyr yourself to society to be a great teacher. I think there is nothing wrong in being a teacher because you like the holidays - as long as you perform well in the classroom.

I am also not saying that changes to the holidays should not happen, just that I would not want to teach if they did.

I do know what you mean about holidays for disadvantaged children, in the past I have run summer schools for such children - but that was my choice. My husband and I also fund and run sailing sessions for children who could not afford to pay for lessons. I suspect the children involved get as much out of that as they would do an extra week of maths.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 22:53:39

"If you knew that computers would help your kids learn or a particular resource you would fight for those wouldn't you? How is this different?"

No, I wouldn't "fight" for resources or computers. I would politely suggest it to management and if they were unable to provide the funding for said computers or resources then I would make do with what I have. Because that is what I am trained to do, and good at doing.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:54:11

Despite being a teacher, I am not a heartless bitch. If it is a choice between me remaining in my job and families being able to put food on the table, the latter is obviously the right thing to do.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:55:04

'It makes no difference to your children whether I work 14 hours a day during term time and then nothing in the holiday or if I work a day hour day and then do my planning and marking in the holiday.'

Well, I know I would be a more effective teacher if I had a more balanced life. I'm sure that most teachers would be more effective if they had less non contact time and less long hours etc.

And, again, if you're going to plan and mark in the holiday anyway, why would you object to losing some of that holiday in order to plan and mark as you went along?

I've only read the last get pages, but fivecandles, can I just point out that many teachers are 'working parents'?

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:58:41

fivecandlesFri 22-Feb-13 22:48:30

' I wonder how big an impact on the economy, crime and the educational attainment of children in poor families that has?'

It's huge. This is largely where I'm coming from (and frankly I'm disappointed that so many teachers don't even seem to acknowledge or care about this).

This is what is pissing me off, where have we said that we don't care or we don't acknowledge it. I have even said that in the past I have run summer schools because I acknwoledge the difficulties. But right now in my life I do not want to give up any of my family time to teaching. That does not mean that I do not care or that I am not acknowledging the issue.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 22:58:45

'If those unpaid "holidays" were taken away I would leave teaching tomorrow, though I love my job very much.'

I really respect this but I think there are also large numbers of teachers who have left teaching or are considering it because it's so imbalanced.

I know that I cannot work at this pace until I am 65. On the other hand I think I probably could last longer and have a better quality of life (and family life) if I worked less hours in each week but more weeks over the year. That also must be respected.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 22:59:48

We need to attract the best teachers we can. Playschemes do not require qualified teachers. It is madness to employ a graduate to babysit in the holidays. If teaching is made less attractive then it will become impossible to attract bright people. We need people with outstanding communication skills to be teachers rather than the dregs of graduates.

A play scheme can be run with 2 NVQ level 3 leaders on a school site perfectly effectively. The governant is changing the law to make it easier for schools to set up such a playscheme and bring down costs for parents.

The govt chose to introduce free nursery care for 3 year olds for the same reason so it's not 'cloud cuckoo land'. "

The governant chose to introduce free nursery care so that 3 year olds are better prepared for school.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 23:00:18

I am going to shout now.




fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:00:34

And there's also no good reason that I can see why both our prferences cannot be accommodated. If schools were open all year I could work fewer hours for more weeks and you could work more hours over less.

Honestly, it's so frustrating that businesses can run all year around and online but it's beyond the capability of man to bring schools vaguely into the 21st century.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 23:00:48

I know a teacher who teaches children in a very deprived area of Newcastle.

She is a life long friend of my wife and she told her that candidly the children she teaches really do not benefit from holidays. It takes her weeks to get them back to a state where she can move them forward after each school holiday because their home life is so chaotic.

If the school year were reformed I suspect there might well be enormous unforseen benefits.

louisianablue2000 Fri 22-Feb-13 23:02:04

I do think there must be some way of making the school system fit into the modern world. The majority of parents work and the current system means we need a piecemeal childcare solution that covers the short school day during term (resulting in two transfers per day between school and wrap-around care) and then the school holidays. Lots of holiday clubs only cover the school day but wrap around care only covers term time so an alternative wrap around is required for the school holidays. Which means children are pushed from one set of carers to another throughout the year. Forgive me for finding this unsatisfactory after four years of preschool childcare with a consistent set of carers throughout the year that (shockingly) provided me with a service that actually met my needs with no stress.

My preference would be for a shorter school day (maybe just a morning each day?) and shorter evenly spaced holidays, preferably short enough that parents actually have enough holiday time to cover the holidays. If the school day is shorter but terms are longer then it becomes more viable to be a wrap around care provider which means the kids get greater consistency. a shorter school day would presumably would solve the 'kids exhausted by the holidays' situation, after all my three year old isn't exhausted by her weeks of childcare in the same way that schoolchildren are exhausted by school so the less school per day the better.

I get really pissed off by teachers claiming school isn't a childminder. Frankly, school gets in the way of the excellent private childcare I had in place for my preschoolers and that is the problem.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:02:31

heggiehog, obviously I'm using the word 'fight' metaphorically. Do you usually take things so literally?

Again, I worry about the lack of imagination evident on this thread.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 23:02:37

"I know that I cannot work at this pace until I am 65. On the other hand I think I probably could last longer and have a better quality of life (and family life) if I worked less hours in each week but more weeks over the year. That also must be respected."

Agree. I do not for a second believe, however, that reducing the holidays would lead to the work being more spread out. I simply think we'd end up teaching at the same pace for longer, as they use the expanded term times as an excuse to pack in more teaching, more paperwork, more marking, more assessments....

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 23:04:39

"heggiehog, obviously I'm using the word 'fight' metaphorically. Do you usually take things so literally?"

Yes. I am on the spectrum. Thank you for making fun of my learning disability.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:05:00

'I do think there must be some way of making the school system fit into the modern world.'


Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 23:05:24

I know I am in danger of making this all about me but what would I do in those extra days in school. I do not need any more days. Most of my colleagues work in a similar manner to myself. We work hard all term and then play even harder all holiday.

I have no issue with schemes running for children during the holidays, as I have said I have contributed to such schemes before but they are just not needed for all children and why would you want to pay all teachers to work in them . Let the young teachers or those who need the money run them, it is a chance for their own career development.

5madthings Fri 22-Feb-13 23:05:44

I like the holidays, we needed this half term break, the little ones especially get tired. I like the long summer break as well.

Fair e tough to offer summer 'schools' etc and even target them at children who need them but not all children need them and not all parents want them.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:06:23

'Thank you for making fun of my learning disability.'

I didn't know it existed so I can hardly be accused of making fun of it!

tiggytape Fri 22-Feb-13 23:06:38

Honestly, it's so frustrating that businesses can run all year around and online but it's beyond the capability of man to bring schools vaguely into the 21st century.

Schools aren't about maximised productivity or business hours though. They are about educating children in child friendly hours and about education only forming part of any day. The rest of the time, children are the responsibility of their parents. It isn't about keeping them out of the way so businesses can operate around the clock or even keeping them on the straight and narrow under the guidance of professionals because their home life is in chaos as MoreBeta describes. It isn't about the state making up for the failings of home life and it isn't about the state enabling businesses to operate.

kickassangel Fri 22-Feb-13 23:07:24

The reason for the holidays is historical. If course, if the entire country wanted to instigate a complete change in the education set up they could, but almost every person in the country would be affected by it, some positively, some negatively.

Such wide spread change is almost impossible to bring about unless there is a huge swell of public support, and there just isn't.

Tbh, long breaks are a mixed blessing. Kids DO need down time to process stuff and refresh. They need time with their families, and the chance to get out and enjoy the sun. they also manage to forget a certain amount of things they learnt, although it doesn't take that long to catch them up again. The UK has some of the shortest summer breaks in the westernized world, so I think it highly unlikely that there will be any great change in the near future.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 23:08:04

I do not think there is any quick fix solution to this problem.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 23:08:37

teacherwith2kids - "Is it better for some teachers to leave their jobs, or for many people who can only earn minimum wage to be unable to work at all ..."

Also in a democratic society is it fair for a minority of people in one profession to have such a strangle hold on the working lives and well being of the majority.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 23:10:03

heggiehogFri 22-Feb-13 23:02:37

* I do not for a second believe, however, that reducing the holidays would lead to the work being more spread out. I simply think we'd end up teaching at the same pace for longer, as they use the expanded term times as an excuse to pack in more teaching, more paperwork, more marking, more assessments....*

I agree, it would just make a tiring job even more tiring. As we are in the run up to the final exams when we return I will be running revision and booster classes most days, before schools, during lunch and after school. I will be teaching from 8am until 5:30 pm - non stop. That means that the time I use before and after school for planning will be shifted to after school. So I will be working 16 hours a day rather than 14. If school was open for more days I would be doing the same thing but just for longer.

At some point you have to say no, not least because schools need energetic experienced teachers , we cannot burn ourselves out.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:10:04

Once again Arisbottle, flexibility is the key and should not be beyond the wit of man. If schools were open all year around it would be possible for some teachers to work according to your preference and some according to mine and it would be possible for some parents to make use of school all year around (which might include 6 weeks of leisure/sport/catch up) and some parents not to.

I'm not talking about extra days in school wihtout kids. I would like to see less teaching hours and more non contact hours each day in each week.

I think few teachers would argue with this.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 23:10:50

"Schools aren't about maximised productivity or business hours though. They are about educating children in child friendly hours and about education only forming part of any day."

Oh, yes, THIS. Find it very frustrating when schools are compared to businesses. They cannot be compared.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 23:11:38

MoreBetaFri 22-Feb-13 23:08:37

Also in a democratic society is it fair for a minority of people in one profession to have such a strangle hold on the working lives and well being of the majority.

How am I having such a stronghold over other people, I have said if that is what is best for children, go ahead but I will not be part of it.

kickassangel Fri 22-Feb-13 23:11:42

Let's not forget we start kids in school one or two years younger than most westernized countries, as well as having up to seven weeks per year longer in school, AND pay about 1/3 less (allowing for currency exchange) and have bigger class sizes.

In the UK it really is a budget education, to try to squeeze more out of the system could be disastrous.

goinnowhere Fri 22-Feb-13 23:13:26

Hmm. I probably wouldn't mind some restructuring of term length and day length. As a parent I don't want my children just doing more of the same.

As a teacher I would enjoy more non contact and more weeks in school I think. However, many parents want consistency too. I'm trying to see how they would
have that if there was less contact time.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:13:49

'Such wide spread change is almost impossible to bring about unless there is a huge swell of public support, and there just isn't. '

I think there is a huge amount of public support but so far no govt has been brave enough to take on teachers (who obviously have most to lose). Gove has suggested he would but no proposals yet.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 23:14:03

But fivecandles that is almost what happens now in a lot of secondary schools. I know my school is open most days of the year, even over holidays and some members of staff go in to work.I go in for a day or two to update displays and tidy my room.

Some children come in for activities run by non teachers - and some teachers offer their services.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:14:39

Nobody is comparing schools to businesses but people are saying it's time that schools reflected the changing needs of society and the children in it rather than be organised according to medievel harvesting.

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:17:43

goinnowhere, I would envisage more extra curricular activities built into the timetable or study sessions for individual appointments or small groups. THat would be enormously benefiical.

I gave the example of Wednesday afternoons (mayn private school still have this) for sport or extra curricular or catch up. Offering homework time or consolidating time in school with support would be of huge benefit to kdis from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are struggling academcially where they may not have an environment conducive to work at home.

kickassangel Fri 22-Feb-13 23:18:11

Teachers are a relatively small % of the population. If the govt wanted to, they would go for it and push it through. But tax payers are a much more influential group, and they don't want to pay more tax, so how will the govt fund changes?

fivecandles Fri 22-Feb-13 23:19:52

Having school buildings open with hardly any one in it is is a shocking waste of resources. That's the worst possible scenario.

I'm talking about full use being made of each school over the whole year - possibly staggered terms, possibly flexible hours, a variety of sumemr schools and holdiay clubs.

MoreBeta Fri 22-Feb-13 23:22:48

heggiehog - lets not forget the school year WAS designed around maximising agricultural productivity. It really was. I know this because I spent every single scholl holiday working on a farm and the long summer I spent every day bringing in the harvest.

I am sure that the economy would benefit and many families would benefit at the economic level too and as a by product many children would gain in their education and life chances too.

If we designed a school year for an agrarian economy then I am sure we can design one for our modern economy.

goinnowhere Fri 22-Feb-13 23:23:52

I also wonder if people could have flexibility on when they take their reduced holidays?

I think initially summer school and activities could happen relatively easily though. A combination of school and non school staff could operate. Would be subsidised automatically by using buildings making them cheaper to run.

Schools should be more aware of the need for good after school care too, at primary level. Again, not hard to do, but I know of schoola not even offering it in the same building, which seems wasteful.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 23:25:07

The modern economy and business hours are not standardised though. There is no one-size-fits-all.

heggiehog Fri 22-Feb-13 23:26:12

"Schools should be more aware of the need for good after school care too, at primary level. Again, not hard to do, but I know of schoola not even offering it in the same building, which seems wasteful."

That's not really up to schools though.

Again, schools getting the blame for things that are down to the government or the local council, LEA etc.

kickassangel Fri 22-Feb-13 23:31:01

But all of these suggestions seem to assume that 'schools' can just supply extra childcare. Who will be the people doing it? Supervising homework etc? Why should taxes pay for those things when the children can be sent home and do those things without the tax payer coughing up?

Even getting over the practical problems doesn't answer that.

Arisbottle Fri 22-Feb-13 23:33:05

Obviously the whole school is not lit up like Blackpool illuminations all over the holiday. But the bits of school being used are open, staff just have to give the site staff advance notice so they can make sure the relevant bits are open.

goinnowhere Fri 22-Feb-13 23:34:52

The other side is other employers. I know so many people still, whose employers do not allow flexible working, even when they could, with no real problem. People who could work 8 til 4 quite easily, and be just as productive, and pick children up earlier. Resistance to change is not just in schools!

tiggytape Fri 22-Feb-13 23:35:33

I agree, it is not for schools to make up the shortfall of childcare provision anymore than it is for employers to open creches in workplaces or existing daycare to expand its age range.

And it isn't as simple as sticking a few kids in the school hall every August with a teaching assistant and a few glue sticks. The admin and legal constrictions are enormous: Ofsted registration (separate from school), insurance cover, planning permission for the use, paperwork, policies, suitably qualified staff, rent agreement with school to cover electricty and repairs, space to store the resources and equipment.... As with all these things it is a huge and costly undertaking. Some schools might of course already have that kind of set up but a lot of them don't.

letseatgrandma Fri 22-Feb-13 23:41:21

On the other hand I think I probably could last longer and have a better quality of life (and family life) if I worked less hours in each week but more weeks over the year. That also must be respected.

My HT/SMT/Ofsted would not require any less in the way of planning/marking/assessing/target setting/monitoring/changing displays/devising, planning and assessing intervention groups etc etc if I worked more weeks. Exactly the same 'outstanding' practice would be expected, so teachers would just be working more weeks at the same level they work at the rest of the year. It is naive to think otherwise.

Why did you switch to the private sector, Fivecandles?

wherearemysocka Sat 23-Feb-13 07:10:39

I do get really fed up with schools being a catch all for every problem in society. I find myself shouting at breakfast TV every time someone comes on to talk about obesity/exercise/road safety/body image etc and says 'they should teach it in schools'. It just seems like a quick way to absolve the rest of society from responsibility for our children and dump it on schools.

Flexible childcare is an issue, but as has been stated above it is not just an issue for schools. Surely with the massive improvement in communications over the past fifteen or so years more people should be able to work from home for at least part of the week? Employers are living in the past expecting people to sit in an office from nine to five every day no matter what they're working on.

I'm intrigued by your idea, fivecandles and have often wondered myself if I would sacrifice holidays for a less intense working week. I find though that when year 11 leave in the summer I always think I'll have more free time, and yet my work seems to expand to fill the gap, and that would be the case here.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:14:01

I agree with tiggytaoe's posts - particularly the one of 23:06 yesterday.

It seems that parents are too busy to have children- they need them in school earlier than 9am and they want them there until 6pm and they need them there in line with most firms holiday provision. In addition a lot of parents have chaotic lives and can't cope with them at all and so the state needs to care for them most of the time so that they are not disadvantaged. Schools are the obvious choice because the building is empty when they are not there and teachers have long holidays and so they could fill in a lot of the extra and they should be curing the ills of society and not be selfish enough to want to spend time with their own families?
Is this the gist- or am I misunderstanding?

Louisa even goes as far as to say that she gets pissed off with teachers saying they are not childminders and that schools get in the way of the excellent child care she had in place for her preschoolers!!!
Schools are not minding your child. They are educating your child- at a time that is suitable for the child to learn. If you need your child cared for then you need to do what teachers have to do and pay for child care.

Schools do need to change. The long holiday is not actually the harvest- it copies the public schools who need the long break to go off to their estates in the country. If it was the harvest they would stretch further into September and could start later.

If they are to have shorter holidays the prices will go up even higher at those times. The only sensible thing is to change from having one teacher per class and to team teaching so that pupils and teachers can take their holiday at any time- a bit of a nightmare catching up what is missed.
The school day could be changed if the terms were longer so that academic work was in the morning and you could have whole afternoons of sport- get our children fit. Afternoons could also be devoted to art, drama etc. you wouldn't have one teacher per class doing it all. Modern language teachers could go to several schools, music teachers could do several schools - all sorts of specialists could do several schools. Teachers could have reduced hours and time off in the week when they were not involved. Students could be employed in their breaks (and they could have short ones and do a degree in 2years) and they could be play leaders.

I could go on and on. Basically change would be welcome, but with an entire overhaul - if it is just teachers doing extra hours and weeks to suit working parents and the feckless parents in our society then they will leave- it is too much.
If people want universal, free child care then the tax payer has to fund it. Many who are childless will take the view that if you have children then you should pay for the childcare yourself.

The government does waste money in my view, but it doesn't work that if they didn't it would go to education. You can't expect good quality childcare from underpaid, overworked, undervalued people.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:19:20

With my system parents could of course take their child out at different times and not have the long day. I don't want mine there all hours and I love unstructured holiday times with nothing to do. As a child I loved the prospect of time to do nothing for weeks on end!

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:20:20

And once you get past childhood you never get it again- except possibly old age when you are too frail to enjoy it.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:24:17

I always tell HEers that it is unnecessary because school is only a short part of the day- if they have longer terms and longer days I can quite see why people want to get off the treadmill and do it themselves. You would never see your DC if they are in childcare all the time.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:26:19

All these long hours and long terms would have to be flexible so that they could leave early for private after school activities and Cub camps etc.

ByTheWay1 Sat 23-Feb-13 08:27:39

If our school was open longer it would cost a bomb.... there are 14 teachers at our school, 5 TAs, 4 HLTAs, one non-teaching Deputy head, one Headteacher, 3 admin staff, 1 caretaker, 7 Mid-day supervisors, 3 cleaners, one financial bod who also deals with the governors. So 14 teachers and 26 others

Changing school hours does not just affect the teachers...

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:32:04

A good point ByTheWay. These people would have to be on duty. I went to a school last week and the office person was ill- it was difficult to man the office and it was chaotic.

chibi Sat 23-Feb-13 08:42:36

i am interested in the idea of flexible terms

so, the 13 weeks out if school would still exist, but people could take them whenever?

how does this work in secondary? e.g. when i am having a week or two on hols but my students are not, who is teaching them during that time? who is preparing and assessing their work? is it me or the other teacher?

if it is me, that represents a major addition to my workload. if it is the other person, with the best will in the world, how effective will the lessons be when they are planned for students they don't know, know and who they may not return to? also, who is covering the other teacher's classes, while they are covering mine?

finally, how might this disruption affect how well students are prepared for their exams?

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:03:01

'The modern economy and business hours are not standardised though. There is no one-size-fits-all.'

Exactly. Which is why schools need to be more flexible and tailored towards the needs of individual learners. At the moment school hours and terms ARE standardised according to medieval harvests. I mean, come on!

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:05:17

Arisbottle the cost of keeping the school open for the sake of the handful of people who may use it over the holidays is astronomical - honestly, it's hundreds of pounds but also, think of the sometimes billions it cost to build these things in the first place, often with state of the art equipment and facilities. You must be able to see how that's a massive waste of taxpayers money when it lies fallow for 13 weeks of the year.

wherearemysocka Sat 23-Feb-13 09:05:40

The only way I could see it working is if secondary schools worked on a modular basis - say 6 week long courses and parents/children chose what they wanted to do, say a particular novel in English, a particular sport in PE. Teachers would have breaks between teaching certain modules, parents would choose when to take a break as well. They could be graded beginner/intermediate/advanced and children from different year groups with similar ability could work together. You could even factor in a bit of work experience in there too. You could assess by a final exam or a project/coursework.

Sounds wonderful in a sense and much more flexible. But it requires far more self discipline than your average teenager possesses, and I dread to think how much it would all cost to organise and staff. You couldn't have a situation where lessons continued as normal whilst children/staff took two weeks off unless it were also acceptable to write on an exam paper 'sorry, I was in Tenerife when they did this'.

chibi Sat 23-Feb-13 09:06:02

can anyone explain how this kind of flexibility will work at secondary, where a child might have 10 or more teachers?

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:08:55

' my work seems to expand to fill the gap, and that would be the case here.'

Of course work always expands to fill the gap but the key here is less contact time allowing teachers more freedom to be creative and work smarter. It's the actual teaching time that generates most work that has to be done immediately - planning, marking, dealing with absent and naughty students. I've not done any research into it but my guess is that we have more contact time than teachers in other countries and this means less time for professional development, collaboration, long-term planning, working with individual students.

chibi Sat 23-Feb-13 09:10:22

how will this work in subjects where the learning is built on previous work?

if a student misses the module on one novel, they can study another and still develop the same skills. if they miss the module on say solving algebraic equations they will really struggle to do all the maths based on this

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:12:44

exotic, you resent the idea that schools should represent the way that society and working parents operate generally but why?

Can I remind you again that schools are currently structured around the agrarian calendar. There is no other reason for the long holidays. It was originally there because of the economy as it was historically. Why shouldn't it change to reflect the economy as it is now?

Especially given that there would be enormous benefits to children themselves.

It really is very odd that you wouldn't want school to be structured so that it better met the needs of the taxpayers who pay for it rather than the convenience of teachers who feel oddly entitled to longer holidays then every one else.

wherearemysocka Sat 23-Feb-13 09:14:01

Oh, it's a complete pipedream, chibi. As a languages teacher I'd find it very difficult to teach my subject in a modular way as like maths it relies on knowing the basics and slowly building on it.

But teachers have been accused so much on this thread of being stuck in their ways and resistant to change, and I thought I'd throw the idea out there.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:18:02

'I love unstructured holiday times with nothing to do. As a child I loved the prospect of time to do nothing for weeks on end!'

Of course you do. But only teachers have this luxury. Only teachers.

It really bugs me that teachers are so lacking in empathy for the nightmare that other working parents go through (honestly, it brings me out in a sweat thinking about it). Why can't you be more sympathetic?

And it's actually more than a lack of sympathy or even empathy it's the suggestion or implication that parents are somehow at fault for finding it difficult to manage childcare and should shut up about it.

Why? Why are so many teachers so incredibly lacking in basic understanding?

Especially when these same parents are funding them to spend 6 weeks at home with their own kids and especially when the kids that they're then going to teach might end up unsupervised and getting into trouble and going backwards academically.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:22:10

'These people would have to be on duty.'

Caretakers and administrative staff often work year around. As for TAs, dinner ladies etc - many would love the opportunity to get paid for more hours.

tiggytape Sat 23-Feb-13 09:23:19

fivecandles - you seem to think the English harvest tradition (or imitation of public schools or whatever the reason for 6 weeks off in Summer) has created a historical throw back that messes up modern lives. In fact we have one of the shortest Summer holiday breaks of all other countries. This is something that most of Europe do and even New Zealand, with its 4 term system, has 6 weeks off in the Summer -except their Summer is in December so it coincides with Christmas.

It is something that many parents and educators find desirable and necessary. A long Summer holiday is a welcome norm around the world not a irritation left over from days of English hop picking (or whatever it is that needs picking in August - city girl here!)

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:24:25

Yes, whereare, that's the system I would envisage. It would actually enable kids to access a broader curriculum and more extra curricular activities. It would also, and I think this is crucial, allow more opportunities for catching up kids who are falling behind. It would enable parents and teachers to take holidays flexibly at the end of modules, again, another advantage.

Bonsoir Sat 23-Feb-13 09:26:55

I like the holidays: they allow the children to do intensive activities that allow consolidation of skills through application in situ and/or rapid progress; to travel and see new places and learn about other cultures; to rest.

Desk-based classroom learning is only one sort of learning. There is a lot more to education and the acquisition of knowledge and skills than that which takes place at school.

JumpingJetFlash Sat 23-Feb-13 09:27:47

I've got an excellent idea that will solve your angst. All those private school teachers who get 17 weeks of holiday will 'donate' 4 weeks of their summer to run clubs for underprivileged children for free. Problem sorted - state teachers keep their hols, private school teachers can share their genius, underprivileged children don't slip back and those parents only need to find 2 weeks childcare. You leading the charge on that one fivecandles???

wherearemysocka Sat 23-Feb-13 09:28:04

I suspect that if teachers were more respected in general by the press and government (I don't mean in regard to holidays, I mean the way in which we are generally perceived as thick, lazy jobsworths who set out to make the lives of children miserable whilst still being responsible for all the ills in society) then they would be more willing to be sympathetic and listen to opinions on the holidays.

We assume any change to the system is basically intended to make us work more for less money, which puts us on the back foot immediately. Perhaps if this government were more respectful towards teachers rather than constantly issuing statements telling us how crap we are, they would find a more measured response. We are defensive because we are being constantly attacked.

Bonsoir Sat 23-Feb-13 09:29:06

"It really is very odd that you wouldn't want school to be structured so that it better met the needs of the taxpayers who pay for it."

I want school to be stuctured around the optimal developmental path of my DCs, not around the workplace.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:29:15

Yes, the need to harvest was a worldwide phenomenon and not specific to ye olde england!

Still pretty bizarre to continue to use this as a way to structure the school year though.

America gets round it by the summer camp and the summer school but there is research that says kids typically go backwards academically during the long break (and the more disadvantaged kids go the farthest back without mummy and daddy to take them on educational holidays). Not to mention the opportunities for getting into trouble. It's widely believed that the riots that happened a couple of summers ago causing millions of pounds of damage not to mention the ruined lives from having kids with criminal convictions, would not have happened if it weren't for the summer holidays.

tiggytape Sat 23-Feb-13 09:29:34

As for TAs, dinner ladies etc - many would love the opportunity to get paid for more hours.

Dinner ladies and TAs also do not to work in the holidays! They choose a job that pays less than they could otherwise earn in order to have 13 weeks at home with their children. Not everybody wants their children in school for more weeks to allow them to work the maximum number of days and earn at the top of their potential. Many people strike a balance of working in a school despite quite possibly being capable of earning vastly more in another sector because they like the hours and the work/life balance.

The state gets an absolute bargain and children benefit from this. There are TAs in classrooms all over the country who are fully qualified teachers. They have children of their own so, to keep the hours shorter and avoid planning / marking at home, they take a TA role instead of a teaching one. There are teachers who choose to teach because it fits in with their family life but who could earn double if they took their degrees and skills into another sector.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:30:11

'I want school to be stuctured around the optimal developmental path of my DCs, not around the workplace.'

The two are much more likely to be compatible than structuring the school year around the harvest!!

Bonsoir Sat 23-Feb-13 09:30:41

fivecandles - the research shows that in the US MC DC improve academically during the summer break (though not quite at the same pace as when they are at school, at least not on traditional academic measures).

tiggytape Sat 23-Feb-13 09:32:11

Children get tired. There is no two ways about it. It is not optimal to have more weeks in school or longer school days - in the younger year groups they are dead on their feet after a regular term with regular hours and take the holiday times to recover

Bonsoir Sat 23-Feb-13 09:32:43

The school year (in the UK) is structured principally around the Christian calendar, not around the harvest.

In France the school year is basically structured around a six-weeks on/two weeks off format, with a two-month summer break (which has the same learning caveats as in the US ie MC children learn a lot and move forward, other DC drop back).

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:32:59

'Dinner ladies and TAs also do not to work in the holidays! '

I love the way you feel entitled to speak for all these people. Actually there are many, many people,in these posiitons or aspiring to them, often posting on here, who would love more hours. These jobs, as they stand, do not provide a living wage.

chibi Sat 23-Feb-13 09:33:37

fivecandles, i am not against your idea, i just want to understand the logistics of it with respect to how it will work at secondary, particularly in subjects where the skills are not modular

i do appreciate the childcare issue- i have my own children, and they go to a childminder who takes her holidays out of term time (i am given to understand it is far cheaper wink) leaving me to try and cover as best as i can

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 09:35:48

The TAs that I know do it because they want a job with few hours and long holidays- not all want extra hours.
I was talking about primary- secondary would be different because you have to factor in public exams.
Lots of parents like long unstructured time- all those who HE for a start and those who would love to HE if they could.
Private schools won't do it. They have even longer holidays and since they have added term duties they are not going to give them up.

Once again teachers don't get paid for their holidays- the bill will rise substantially if you have additional weeks to work- they are not going to take it as a pay cut!

I forgot to say, in my system where parents get additional free childcare they would be expected to have additional duties too. Everyone would have to do at least a term on the PTA and there were would be a rota for coming in once a term- they could choose if it was the father or the mother- to help.

At the start of the year there would be a list of the things that enhance education- so that they get plenty of warning for something like an Egyptian day and dress the DC without moaning!

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:36:00

Ahhh, Tiggy, read back over the thread. If the curriculum was more balanced across the year it would be less tiring for kids and teachers. Unfortunatley, not every kid gets a nice 6 week 'rest' over the holdiays with mummy and daddy. Some end up completely unsupervised or put into inadequate and costly childcare. A new system could and should provide flexibility so you could still take holidays and also more extra curricular activities.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 09:36:54

I am only speaking for the TAs that I know- a considerable number.

EvilTwins Sat 23-Feb-13 09:37:21

No one funds my six week holiday. I don't get paid for it.

FiveCandles, you have stopped even considering the children and are now attempting to reorganise the school year around what you consider to be convenient for "working parents" (all of whom work exactly the same hours, have exactly the same needs and priorities hmm)

One of the major employers in my town does term-time only contracts, which are very popular because it allows parents to SPEND TIME WITH THEIR KIDS. It seems people WANT to do so, and are not, in fact moaning that they'd be able to spend more time at work if it wasn't for the inconvenience of school holidays. Perhaps more employers need to look at flexible contracts, rather than schools changing to supply childcare 9-5 all year round.

Bonsoir Sat 23-Feb-13 09:37:45

It's not a good use of resources to structure the school year to compensate for the minority of families who don't ensure their DC get a good rest and break in the summer.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 09:38:31

My last word- tell me who will pay for it by putting the needs of children, teachers and parents first - rather than the public purse.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:39:15

' i just want to understand the logistics of it '

Blimy - I'm not actually a policy maker unfortunately. These are suggestions. This is the way things would be in my ideal world. I can see lots of advantages - social, economic, educational... The only real loss (which is the only real reason for the resistance) is some of teachers' holidays but, in my vision, this would be compensated by a more balanced, less pressured working year, better outcomes for kids and more flexibility about when you take holdiays.

wherearemysocka Sat 23-Feb-13 09:39:48

I'm also interested in your idea fivecandles and would love an opportunity to discuss potential reforms with other professionals, but ideally without the mudslinging. We do care about the children we teach and are aware of our greater obligations to society, but I don't think teachers can be blamed for being concerned about their own working conditions, just like any other employee would be.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 09:40:32

Another last word - I can't see why people want children if you never get time to see them! Have state boarding schools and go and take them out in the odd times it is convenient! Also solves the problem of inadequate parents.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:41:59

'not all want extra hours.'

But many do and frankly, really well qualifed people, would be queuing up to do this job if it provided a living wage which it currently doesn't.

Anyway, once again, my system would allow flexibility. Teachers, children, support staff could take time off when it suited them as opposed to in keeping with the harvest.

5madthings Sat 23-Feb-13 09:42:57

exotic when dd starts pre-school i am doing a cache course in early years teaching assistant and will be volunteering at the primary whilst i do so. With the aim of getting a job as a ta. And the holidays is on my plus list, dp cant get holidays off and i need and want to be around for the mad things.

My kids are always ready for the holidays when they come round, if anything i would like more!!

EvilTwins Sat 23-Feb-13 09:42:58

How would that work in secondary? How?

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:44:13

Who would pay? Read further down the thread. The Govt managed to fund the olympic opening ceremony to the tune of 27 million and Free Steiner and Maharishi schools et al to the tune of billions.

It invests in free chilcare places for 3 year olds bcause it understands that there is a huge economic and social benefit to enabling parents to work.

Same deal.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:45:31

Think how much is wasted when those buildings and facilities are left unused for 13 weeks of the year. And expertise when teachers are sitting at home working instead of working at school.

And wouldn't taxpayers be prepared to pay a little bit more considering they wouldn't have to fork out a penny for 13 weeks holiday any longer?

chibi Sat 23-Feb-13 09:46:06

there may well be an argument for distributing holidays more evenly through the year

this is not the same argument as modular subjects and holiday when you want. i am really struggling to understand how this last one is beneficial for students' learning

it is really hard to discuss something in good faith with someone who implies that anyone resistant to these specific changes lacks imagination or is entitled, but , when asked for detail says, 'blimey i am not a policy maker'

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:46:30

And the savings in benefits because not having to pay or manage that childcare over those holidays would enable a significant number of parents to work where it is not currently worth their while financially.

wherearemysocka Sat 23-Feb-13 09:47:10

Seriously, fivecandles, I've taken your side a fair bit in this debate, but the holidays are unpaid. Make teachers work more, pay them more.

EvilTwins Sat 23-Feb-13 09:47:29

How would a drop in system work in secondary? How would someone plan to teach a GCSE course when they don't know which students are in when, and kids are taking holidays at any given point?

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:50:41

'No one funds my six week holiday. I don't get paid for it.'

I don't get how this makes us different from otehr jobs except that actually our salary is pretty decent then considering we get 13 weeks holiday that is unpaid.

Teachers need to understand when they're on to a good thing. No other job gets paid so much for so few official working hours.

As for the unofficial hours, if you do those anyway, then why resent spreading out the year a bit more and changing our hours to reflect what we already do but recongizing it and making it more manageable>

I would very willingly sacrifice a week or two holiday for less contact time every day each week. Most teachers would feel this way since they already work so many extra unpaid hours. BUt my system would allow flexibility, you could probably still work the hours you do now but you could also spread them out.

Flexibility, ladies, everyone's a winner.

ben5 Sat 23-Feb-13 09:51:01

in oz we have 4 terms. each term lasts 10 weeks. I like this but do agree the summer holidays are to long. we had 7 weeks this summer. my kids are ready to go back after 4-5 weeks.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:52:11

NOt a drop in system. Modules . You do 6 weeks or 8 weeks and then pick up other modules or go on holiday or do some catching up or pick up extra curricular. Much better suited to the educational needs of our kids and the economy. Much more individual tailoring.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 23-Feb-13 09:52:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EvilTwins Sat 23-Feb-13 09:54:34

Answer the questions:

1. Who would pay for it (or do you HONESTLY think the government would finance it)

2. How would flexibility like that work in secondary schools where GCSE and A Level specs have to be covered?

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:54:59

'It's not a good use of resources to structure the school year to compensate for the minority of families who don't ensure their DC get a good rest and break in the summer.'

That's rubbish. It's a total waste to spend billions on school buildings, facilities and maintenance and human expertise fo rthem to lie fallow for 13 weeks.

And it's actually a minority of families who are able to spend 13 weeks with their kids. TEachers, SAHPs. A number of parents are forced into spending this time because it's not fiannaiclally worth their while working because they can't afford the childcare.

The system as it is is hugely wasteful and unhelpful to the economy.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:55:48

Evil, I've answered those questions. Read the thread.

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 09:58:24

'Make teachers work more, pay them more.'

Aahh, the vast majority of teachers already work many more hours than they are paid. I work a good 15 hours each week over directed time and I would say about 1/3 of each holiday when all is evened out.

I would rather work less intensely (ie have less contact time) each week but work more weeks in the year.

Many teachers on this thread have agreed that this would suit them too.

EvilTwins Sat 23-Feb-13 09:59:21

Oh dear, FiveCandles, you are clueless. And you claim to be a teacher? 6 or 8 week modules? Yes, because that's how it works. Every school can manage that. No need to respond to the needs of the children. No need to take their ideas and run with them for a few extra lessons. And what about parents who think it's ok to take kids out of school for all manner of reasons ("had to stay at home cos the Sky TV man was coming" is one I had this week) Making education less formal would do nothing to address the issues of impoverished children. Parents who are suspicious of schools and teachers wouldn't necessarily welcome changes like this. It's a wider problem and not something that can be fixed by flexible schooling.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 10:00:22

If teachers were into a good thing they wouldn't be leaving in droves or going to job shares!
The TAs that I know are very well qualified people, they do the job because the hours allow them to spend lots of time with their DCs which is what they want.
We seem to lose the point that people work to live- they are not living to work. Time with my family is more precious than anything else and I am willing to earn a lot less to do it. I would take a salary drop to keep the holidays- I wouldn't take one to work more!

fivecandles Sat 23-Feb-13 10:00:53

Eh? We currently work in 6 to 8 week modules. We are forced to because of the ridiculous system as it is now with a bloody great 6 week gap in the middle of the year! You don't make any sense.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 23-Feb-13 10:03:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Sat 23-Feb-13 10:03:27

Teachers need to understand when they're on to a good thing. No other job gets paid so much for so few official working hours.

I still think you are missing the point that teachers are people with degrees, post graduate qualifications, skills and training that would make them