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... to wonder if the school holidays really have to be so long

(176 Posts)
Dieu Mon 27-Apr-15 13:06:07

Hi all. I should say at the start that I am a former secondary school teacher, so this is most definitely not intended as a school or teacher bashing thread! grin
I guess I'm fortunate in that, despite being a single parent, I generally work term-time (with some holiday work) and can take my kids along with me. However I do wonder how other parents, particularly those who work full-time, manage everything. You need a medal!
I think the current model is rather outdated. The days of mothers being at home every day to look after the kids, while said kids play outdoors all day, are over.
Many of the parents at my daughters' school seem to be able to work flexibly, but it has to be difficult for those who have no room for manoeuvre where their places of work are concerned. Several families I know have to take separate 'holidays' from work, in order to cover the long summer break. Holiday care can be very expensive.
No judgement, I would just like to know what others think.

squoosh Mon 27-Apr-15 13:08:58

School holidays in the UK seem very short to me.

kinkyfuckery Mon 27-Apr-15 13:11:20

YABU. School is not childcare.

DisappointedOne Mon 27-Apr-15 13:11:27

There's definitely a mismatch between the 5.6 weeks holiday offered to most workers and the 13 weeks' holiday school children have. The whole thing is a minefield, TBH.

RoadRunner123 Mon 27-Apr-15 13:12:18

I've often thought this too. It really doesn't seem to make sense how much leave the average worker gets compared with child children. Parents juggling leave and not taking much together, as a family, doesn't seem to be ideal.

Children definitely need a break from school learning and it is lovely for them to have time off to relax, mess around etc (I enjoy the school holidays more and more as mine get older). But I'd have thought one week for Easter, one week at Christmas and a slightly reduced summer would work well.

Or better still, employers should give everyone more leave!!

balletnotlacrosse Mon 27-Apr-15 13:15:13

Here in Ireland Secondary schools close at the end of May and don't reopen until the end of August. That seems too long to me, but holidays in British schools seem quite short.

Dieu Mon 27-Apr-15 13:15:22

Agreed RR. My children had slightly under 3 weeks for Easter, and it felt rather lengthy!
Understand your point KF, but it's not an easy situation for many parents.

HagOtheNorth Mon 27-Apr-15 13:15:46

So if you're a former teacher, you know that this debate has been going on for decades, and numerous schemes suggested?
More terms, shorter holidays, 6 week blocks broken up by a week off and four weeks in the summer, getting rid of the possible September learning dip, allowing more flexibility with holiday dates...endless combinations to even out the year and have more time in school with added enrichment weeks so that it wasn't all about the core subjects.
Lots of woffle, no actual decisions by anyone. For years.
I think it was a good idea to look again at the Victorian model of holidays and reinvent it. YANBU

HagOtheNorth Mon 27-Apr-15 13:18:53

Here we go, found one from 1999
www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/jan/07/johncarvel

Dieu Mon 27-Apr-15 13:20:43

Thanks for the link. I feel very out of the loop, I must admit, having not taught for several years.

TheSconeOfStone Mon 27-Apr-15 13:21:43

I think YABU. My children are 4 and 7 and really need the holidays as school is so pressured even in infants. I work 3.5 days per week with no flexibilty, DH is full time. I get 6 weeks AL and the rest is covered by grand parents and CM. Even without the grandparents help I would rather pay for CM or holiday play schemes than have longer terms.

HagOtheNorth Mon 27-Apr-15 13:23:06

Ohhh here's an update from 2013. It's talkig about possible changes from September this year.
www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jul/01/michael-gove-school-summer-holiday

windchime Mon 27-Apr-15 13:23:31

I have to say my DD(9) is completely exhausted by the end of term so the holidays are long enough for her. I work part time so childcare not so much of an issue for me. But I do think teachers get an awful lot of annual leave, when the rest of the country only gets 6 weeks a year.

Triooooooooooo Mon 27-Apr-15 13:23:35

My ds now attends a private school (( LEA funded, I mention this because im guessing thats why they have the flexibility )) and they add on a week to two of the half terms thus knocking off two weeks of the summer holidays !!

Makes sense to me as he gets so bored, I'm hoping this summer will be a little easier.

Dieu Mon 27-Apr-15 13:24:26

I enjoy the holidays too, as do my children obviously, don't get me wrong! I sometimes just wonder what I'd do if in a different kind of job. I guess you just find solutions, get on with it, cope. No choice. My point is that it can't be easy for many though.

tiggytape Mon 27-Apr-15 13:24:59

YABU
The UK has some of the shortest summer holidays. Most countries (even ones not much hotter than ours) have 8 or 9 weeks every summer. Some have 10-12 weeks off all in one go.

My DCs are older but they still need a good long break at the end of the academic year. Most of the children are running on empty by then When they are little they get tired easily. When they are teens they are worn out by a term of exams and revision stress.

Yes it is difficult with childcare sometimes but some decisions have to be a balance between what's best for the children and what's easiest for parents. Given that our summer holiday is already comparatively short, that's probably a good compromise already.

GottaFeeling Mon 27-Apr-15 13:28:11

As PP said, school isn't intended to be childcare. You know when you become a parent that you will have x number of years where you need to chare for your child.

IMO school holidays aren't long enough. Children need weeks on end in the summer to be "bored" and discover themselves IMO. To learn to occupy themselves and find out what interests them in the world around them, rather than what they're told the need to be interested in at school.

Also, if the holidays were shorter, then that scramble for the prime AL weeks among working parents would be even greater.

I believe our school year is already longer than many countries e.g France & USA.

Theycallmemellowjello Mon 27-Apr-15 13:28:14

Completely agree! What a stange mismatch between holidays given to adults and those given to children. You'd think that someone in government might have twigged that a grown up has to look after the kids when they're off school.

DadOnIce Mon 27-Apr-15 13:28:18

Nobody ever seems to mention the fact that even adding a couple of extra weeks to the school year - say, one either end to make the holidays 4 weeks - would be extremely expensive.

If you don't know why, go away and have a long hard think.

HagOtheNorth Mon 27-Apr-15 13:28:40

Windchime, the plan was to break up the terms more frequently, to avoid the complete exhaustion at the end of a long haul.

AmberLav Mon 27-Apr-15 13:29:09

In a lot of areas in the UK, the school holidays are still based around the old farming cycles, such as the Potato (first two weeks of October) holidays in parts of Scotland. The summer holidays were long to allow fruit picking. But god forbid that those outdated reasons should ever actually be reviewed! I don't think that anyone really thinks that 6 weeks in summer is helpful/useful to anyone...

MissDuke Mon 27-Apr-15 13:31:12

I am in NI, and ours get 9 weeks in the summer. It is lovely! I would be happy enough though for a couple of those weeks to be taken earlier in the year. It seems a long run between the Easter holidays and the start of summer, as ours don't get half term then, more just random days for teacher training/May bank holidays etc. Mine were off nearly 2 weeks at Easter, and finish at the end of June for the 9 weeks.

bimandbam Mon 27-Apr-15 13:31:21

Its not that school holidays are long. It's the fact that in so many familes both parents have to work which creates and issue for working parents.

And both parents have to work because the cost of living is so high. And we expect more 'things' than what an average family would have had a few generations ago.

Theycallmemellowjello Mon 27-Apr-15 13:35:43

DadOnIce, but it's not free to have the children on holiday at that time either - parents either have to look after them themselves (unwaged, but this is still labour) or pay for childcare. Of course the cost of childcare and the cost of keeping schools open are paid in different ways but they are both still costs.

LegsOfSteel Mon 27-Apr-15 13:37:37

We managed a one week family holiday each year in the first years of school - not enough annual leave to get more time together. (I always wonder how anybody can take their kids out of school to go on holiday - where do they get all the annual leave/school holiday childcare from?).
If the kids are knackered at the end of term, as suggested by windchime, then I would say shorten the terms and spread the holidays out (wouldn't help with annual leave holiday cover though).
6 -7 weeks in summer is a long time to be off unless you are going travelling around far flung places.

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