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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?

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:,9171,2005863,00.html

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.

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