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OK, so if *you* were in charge of school holidays, what would you do . . .

(153 Posts)
Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 09:49:55

My plan if I were dictator for life Education Secretary:

1) Give all dc an extra 3 weeks of holiday, 2 of them at the start of the summer hols (ie break up start July),

2) The other extra week goes to break up the long autumn term, so a longer (say 10 days) half term early-mid oct, then a long weekend with 2 days hols end november.

3) Sorry, teachers, but then all school have to offer 3 x 1 week summer camp in the long summer holidays.

4) These are optional, so if parents want their dc can have the full 8 weeks. The weeks are mainly extension activities like you get at the end of term. So eg primaries might do a sports week, a storytelling/drama week, a craft week. Secondaries might offer some academic options (eg study skills week for those going into 6th form, catch up maths etc), and some fun stuff again like end of term weeks.

I'm sure there's all sorts of problems with this (!) but I reckon (a) working parents don't have any longer childcare to arrange, and (b) it would break up the summer holidays for those that need without getting rid of the option of a long break for those that it suits.

Obviously it is more work for teachers, particularly in the first few years but I guess the pay-off is that you'd probably only have about half the dc there (maybe less in some schools? I suspect few would do all 3 weeks) and it would give a bit of 'time off' from the curriculum to do fun stuff.

What would you all do? (Especially if you are a teacher grin )

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 31-Jul-13 19:44:56

"I think it's ridiculous that school buildings are left empty whilst some parents struggle to cover childcare or find enough activities to keep kids occupied."

What makes you think that school buildings are unoccupied?


if the "extension activities" are voluntary for the parents/Pupils does that mean that as a teacher I can use your "extra" holidays as work time instead of doing the activities weeks?

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 31-Jul-13 19:51:31

Given that this was a suggestion made by the OP for if she were king of the world, depressing that as is predictable on any thread about schools, teachers immediately take a negative view of any interesting idea and assume its all about them, their martyrdom. How about just looking at it completely afresh, from the children's point of view hmm and letting the staffing follow on from that - ie different , fresh, lively, enthusiastic people (students?)could be hired to do the holiday camps...?
(in any case, the education system should not be built around teachers DC anyway, any more than the heath service is shaped around nurses DC, or the legal profession around lawyers DC etc.

dangly131 Wed 31-Jul-13 19:51:57

Vilewoman...a camp would be overnight so in effect all your free time would have to be given up. I am potentially going on a residential 3 days into the new term, I will find out one the first day back. I will have to arrange kennels for my pets, cancel voluntary commitments I have as well as visits to my parents. This is unusual in that we will find out so late due to another member of staff being unable to go and this changing at the last minute. So yes I balance them against work usually but I can't do these when I am 200 miles away for 5 days with 30 children.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 31-Jul-13 19:58:10

We are lucky and can do as we please but are governed by school holidays for extra curricular activities.
So I would give longer at Christmas, at least another week. january is miserable and December is hectic, they need longer here.
Easter is too long, so this could be shorter. Summer holidays is fine but maybe all of July off. Half terms are fine at a week, just long enough.

Samu2 Wed 31-Jul-13 20:09:38

3 weeks for Christmas!

4 weeks for the summer.

EatYourCrusts Wed 31-Jul-13 20:18:57

Extra week in May, extra week in October, taken from the summer.

Hulababy Wed 31-Jul-13 20:23:00

I wouldn't reduce summer holidays. Think 6 weeks is fine as it is. Many children do need it, and, tbh, I have worked in secondary and primary schools - not many children really take long to get back nto the swing of it in September. It isn't that long either - many countries have far longer.

I don't want longer holidays when it is cold and dark - brrr!

Maybe an extra week in May would be good.

Have no issues with schools offering summer camp etc so long as it is not existing teachers/TAs who have to run it - unless they wish to. My DD's primary offered holiday club in the summer holidays, and Easter and other times - for under 8s anyway. Seems good idea.

Hulababy Wed 31-Jul-13 20:26:20

Can't reduce Easter either - need to give parents and teaxhers chance for 2 weeks holidays at some time other than just peak summer times - esp for winter destinations!

If reducing summer - why not just all everyone 10 days to take when they want including staff. That would avoid the nightmare in offices of everyone trying to get their 1-2 weeks holidays in all at the same time in these reduced to 4 week summers.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 20:49:16

I like Easter at 2 weeks, wouldn't reduce it - weather is often very good, too.

Actually, I don't want to reduce any of the holidays, just make summer longer and stick a few extra days in to break up the long autumn term.

Hence my suggestion of taking 3 weeks away from term time and making them optional by calling them 'summer camp' grin

thismousebites Wed 31-Jul-13 22:23:24

4 weeks on, 1 week off throughout the year, then 2 weeks at xmas and 3 weeks in the summer.

BeehavingBaby Wed 31-Jul-13 22:29:28

I would like to see a 4 day week spread over 45/6 weeks of the year.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 31-Jul-13 22:34:40


"teachers immediately take a negative view of any interesting idea and assume its all about them, their martyrdom."

Why is asking if you will be paid more for working more hours martyrdom?

Also, would this mean that as a teacher I could get a choice of holidays?
TBH I would quite like the idea to be able to choose which three weeks I could have off.

But again the "martyrdom" is your prejudice showing.

BeehavingBaby Wed 31-Jul-13 22:53:03

Also like thismousebites idea. A more even distribution in general please.

skyeskyeskye Wed 31-Jul-13 23:05:17

I think that 4 weeks maximum in the summer would be good. Add an extra week onto Christmas and Easter holidays instead

VileWoman Wed 31-Jul-13 23:25:54

Dangly131 I had assumed that summer 'camps' wouldn't be residential, there are plenty of private providers offering residential camps, but the local summer sports camps near me are normal school hours.

But anyway, there are plenty of people who have to travel for work when they have kids so that's hardly an argument for not having residential camps. This is an 'if I was ruler of the world' discussion, not a 'how do current teachers feel about having a change in the structure of their working life' discussion.

Personally I'm with Bugsy's idea, no set 'school holidays' but everyone who attends or works in a school allowed X days of annual leave a year. I'd be happy to reduce the school day to a half day and then let private providers offer childcare in the afternoons. I'm paying a fortune for wrap around care anyway but it doesn't cover holidays so my kids go between school, wrap around care, being at home with me or DH, and then holiday camps/groups. I'd rather there just were a couple of regular childcare providers for the kids to have relationships with, and the problem are the holidays.

I'm not convinced by the 'kids need weeks of downtime' argument for long school holidays, for one thing that only happens if there is a SAHP at home, for kids with parents who work there's no downtime, just another change of routine and carers.

VenusSurprising Thu 01-Aug-13 01:16:11

My DC in primary school gets about 7 months of school a year.
12 weeks summer hols
2 weeks Christmas
2 weeks Easter
1 week in October and
1 week in February.
Plus 4 half days for teacher training/meetings, 2 half days for pt meetings and 5 days off for religious and public holidays.

It all adds up.
But the school is outstanding and 98% of them go on to university.

I think parental involvement is the main factor in educating children, not time spent at the 'chalk face'.

VenusSurprising Thu 01-Aug-13 01:26:46

Should mention that the kids go to the connected school secondary school before they embark to uni!!
Could just imagine them trotting out to uni at 11!! smile :D

PurpleGirly Thu 01-Aug-13 01:37:43

Allowing pupils to have 10 days off whenever in the year would never work - as a teacher there would be a lot of extra work to do 1:1 with each pupil to catch up what was missed. I had three pupils take time off this year in one class ( at different times, all for two weeks). Catch up for each was three two hour after school sessions.

deleted203 Thu 01-Aug-13 02:39:45

Make 'em longer grin. I love the holidays with the kids around.

EvilTwins Thu 01-Aug-13 03:38:10

Can I just point out that those suggesting a "schools open all year round and everyone can choose when to go on holiday" clearly have no idea how schools (at least secondary schools) work?

If I was missing one or two kids from my GCSE class constantly, it would be a nightmare. If I decided to take my 2 weeks (or whatever) then I would have to set cover work for someone else to teach to my classes in my absence. To do so effectively for 2 weeks is incredibly difficult. I don't imagine it would be long before schools had a stream of complaints about it.

And as for the posters suggesting schools should also be covering extras from gardening to dance classes to excursions - that's the stuff I do with my DC, as a parent. I don't want them doing that at school instead, thank you.

Zigster Thu 01-Aug-13 06:37:44

My DSs got over 9 weeks' summer holiday this year from their private school. We're not only putting them in holiday club every other week but also having to make a real effort with them to keep up their studies - they are still young and will have forgotten how to read and write if we don't encourage them.

A summer break of that length is too long. Six weeks would be much better (for them and us).

Naebother Thu 01-Aug-13 07:10:34

I think the current arrangement is good. Children, teachers and schools need the longer summer break to recharge, renew and plan for another busy year.

Holiday clubs should be organised at borough level and means tested so poorer families get free care and food, and the holiday industry should even out the prices for holidays to make things fairer for families with children.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Thu 01-Aug-13 07:44:48

I like the long holiday, mainly because I can remember how much I enjoyed them as a child. I am in an advantageous situation however that I work for myself in a home based business so I don't have too many child care issues.

I wish they would break up slightly earlier before Christmas, but other than that I'm quite happy with the current situation.

Hulababy Thu 01-Aug-13 08:06:55

Dd has longer holidays than me. A week more at Summer, Easter and Christmas plus the odd extra day here and there.

She's just finished primary. Never had any issues at all with forgottig her learning etc and we do very little, if any, work in the summer holidays.

MrButtercat Thu 01-Aug-13 09:02:29

I'd like longer so current system a good compromise.

Would like to see more outstanding quality holiday provision for poorer families and working parents though.

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