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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 )

wherearemysocka Thu 01-Aug-13 09:12:44

I do agree that there should be more low cost activities for children during the holidays. It could be a good way for potential student teachers to gain experience.

I don't think the holidays need to be extended though. I would maybe like a week from the summer to be added to the October half term - it is a long slog until Christmas for staff and children.

The 'annual leave' idea just simply wouldn't work. Lessons would be wasted finding out who missed what and catching up. Often teachers don't take days off when they're sick because of the chaos they return to. I dread to think what I'd come back to after ten days!

Tigerblue Thu 01-Aug-13 09:28:09

My daughter enjoys school, but she also loves being at home. Our feet don't touch the ground and we had our first day at home yesterday, so for us a six week break once a year is great. Also, gives the teachers chance to sort classrooms out for the next year, prepare work and have time with their families, especially if they're working all day and then have marking to do in the evenings.

Maggietess Thu 01-Aug-13 10:12:28

In NI we have 8 weeks at summer. Think our half terms etc are shorter than England then though as it's a week at Easter and Halloween.

Don't extend your summer holidays - the first few weeks of July are when the Irish and the Scots get (fractionally) cheaper holidays until the English schools are off grin

Seriously though I think the idea of floating weeks is terrible, never mind the teachers, it would be a disaster for your kids learning. Imagine them coming back in and the child they sit beside knows how to do something that they don't, then they have to catch that up so they're not doing what the majority of the class is doing, how do you have the same homework, measure progress etc?

I like the long summer holiday, it's the best time of year when you've a chance of the kids spending outdoors time. Other times of year you're more likely to have to pay for indoor activities instead of parks, beach etc.
What I'd find much more helpful would be if every school in an area (say a council area) had to have exactly the same holidays. My parents had a total nightmare trying to match up holidays as my sister was at primary school, I was at girls secondary and my brother at boys secondary. They never coordinated half breaks never mind that if you had a son at one you likely had a daughter at the other. Now that's a childcare/holiday planning nightmare!

Astr0naut Thu 01-Aug-13 10:29:18

WHy don't we let kids decide? Kids get to recruit staff, tell them what's good/bad about their lessons and how to improve them, so why not have children decide how many weeks holiday they want?

PostBellumBugsy Thu 01-Aug-13 10:29:29

Eviltwins, I was thinking of looking at education in a completely different way. Starting from scratch & not trying to adapt the current system.

If schools ran all year around, like hospitals or businesses, then you would run them differently. Teaching would be less intensive, so if a child missed 2 weeks, the bits that they missed would be much easier to make up. Clearly, you would hope that in exam years parents would have the sense not to book holidays during exams or in the weeks before exams - but maybe even the exam system could be reconsidered and children took exams when they were ready to take them & not at one set time. Again, that would mean that instead of having to have an army of markers at certain times of the year, who have bugger all to do for the rest of the year, you would deploy them around the year.

Teachers would have the same flexibility as every other working adult to take their holidays when they needed. There would be more teachers, as all the people currently running extra-curricular clubs would become part of the education system. With good planning, you would have teachers to cover each others holiday times in just the same way as you do in any other organisation. You would also refurb and clean the same way you do in other organisations.

I realise it is a bit off the wall - but I think that the education system is so outdated. It is still based on life as it was in Victorian times, not how we live nowadays.

I'd love to see more exciting ideas - given this is just a chat forum. It is not like we are actually going to make the changes!

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 01-Aug-13 10:46:07


I did that as part of a lesson.

The idea that pupils liked the most was : -

The school is open 24/7 53 weeks of the year, teachers run 8 hour shifts, and the pupils turned up to which ever lessons they felt like, BUT they have to do a set amount of hours in each lesson to be able to complete the various modules.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 01-Aug-13 10:54:12

I should point out as well that 53 weeks is not a typo, they wanted to increase the year so that they could fit more holidays in.

Takver Thu 01-Aug-13 11:41:03

Astr0naut - not holidays, but dd has suggested in the past that she would like longer school days for dc from around yr 5 onwards, from 8.30 - 4.45 say but only 4 days a week so they get a three day weekend.

My original suggestion also came out of a discussion that we had smile

Takver Thu 01-Aug-13 11:43:26

I've also always been very impressed by the Summerhill type model of children choosing which lessons they want to attend.

If I were re-inventing education from scratch (and had plenty of funding!) I would make it compulsory only up to age 13/14, then offer education 'college style' where students sign up for classes as they wish over any number of years to complete their education. So eg they might work stacking shelves for a year or so if they were sick of school, then go back when they were 16.

oscarwilde Thu 01-Aug-13 12:11:10

I would:

Extend the teaching day slightly, and ditch most valueless homework. Teachers don't take work home to mark as a result
Extend the summer holidays for children to 8 weeks and the October half term to two weeks
Adopt the French system where regions have the same holidays. All of London has the same 8 weeks and half terms. Anglia might be a week ahead and the west country a week behind. In practise then, a child in Devon might be on holidays from mid July to mid September.
Teachers would not gain two weeks extra holiday (sorry) but would work for the two weeks as part of a team providing summer school (children not reaching attainment levels) or in-school camps (art, sport etc).
Schools would be closed for 4 straight weeks for maintenance only, while open for the remaining 4 weeks to provide additional teaching/camps.
Teachers choosing to work 4 rather than 2 weeks would get two weeks of extra pay, or two weeks to take at another time of the year.

Astr0naut Thu 01-Aug-13 12:23:02

Oh GOd, anything but a 3 day weekend - my kids are 3 and 1. By SUnday tea-time I'm counting down to work again! Give me 30 apathetic teens over 48 hours of "mummy, Mummy look. Mummy. Mummy you're not looking! Mummy. Mummy, where are you? Mummy, I can;t hear you. Mummy...."

ringaringarosy Thu 01-Aug-13 14:38:47

however many weeks holiday they get,i would break that up into a few 2 or 3 weeks breaks throughout the year,i dont really see the need for so long in one go,i think as a child i would of preffered lots of smaller breaks.

ringaringarosy Thu 01-Aug-13 14:40:19

i am completley against extending the day any longer,if anything i think it should start later and end earlier,i think they would get a ot more out of children,espescially teens in a smaller amount of time.I know that will never happen though as school seems to be more about childcare these days and that wouldnt fit in with adults jobs.

Redlocks30 Thu 01-Aug-13 14:45:04

I would probably leave things as they are! As this thread has demonstrated-one person's 'good idea' would be another person's nightmare scenario! At least with things as they are-we all know what to expect!

PostBellumBugsy Thu 01-Aug-13 15:03:31

The current situation is my nightmare scenario Redlocks!!!

Redlocks30 Thu 01-Aug-13 15:09:31

Ha ha-sorry to hear that! The difficulty is you will always piss somebody off. I would also hate for schools to be run for the benefit of parents and not educating children.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 01-Aug-13 15:24:18

I'm not convinced schools are run for the benefit of children. I think they are run for the benefit of future employers and the Government of the day.

The reason I suggested the greatly extended curriculum and increased time at school is so to help level the playing field. The children with the least adequate parents would benefit most, but I think all children would benefit to some extent.

ringaringarosy Thu 01-Aug-13 19:35:15

If children were required to attend school for any longer id take them out in a heartbeat,their already there too much as it is.

ravenAK Fri 02-Aug-13 01:46:55

I would:

Leave terms pretty much as they are, but capped at 7 weeks. Any longer's painful for students & staff.

Ensure school facilities are used for summer camps etc throughout the summer break. There should be a wide choice of programmes - academic 'enrichment' programmes to stretch the very able, revision/reinforcement for those needing extra help, & sports/fun/useful stuff for those whose parents just want them kept out of mischief whilst they work.

This could include lots of educational trips out for the day, & camping/residentials as well as activities on site.

In the non-academic provision I'd include cooking & everyday life skills eg. operating washing machine, & childcare - pay young parents to come in & help teach this.

Parents should be able to sign up their dc for whichever activities they think would benefit them, with guidance from form tutor, or just 'camp' stuff as childcare.

Fees should reflect use of school premises & paying the staff. However, the scheme should be heavily subsidised for those (Pupil Premium, low-waged parents) who cannot pay the going rate.

The whole thing should be staffed by any teachers who want the 'overtime' (probably younger/childless staff with no commitments, who are skint & looking to tick a few Performance Management boxes ); TAs (& should be a recognised 'point' towards subsequent qualified teacher status if that's what the TA is aiming towards); & post-grad Uni students considering a career in teaching - again, should be recognised as valuable experience to access a PGCE.

Outside providers could also get involved if the demand's there.

Once all this is up & running, it could be extended to the Easter hols/half terms too.

In fact - we already DO quite a lot of the above! But I would like to see it extended such that no child is unable to access meaningful & safe activities over the summer, whilst equally, no child is deprived of a decent 6 week break from formal schooling.

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 02:08:58

My DTDs, when I need them to, to to a sports camp which takes place at a local secondary school. It is one of at least 3 housed in the same school, but none of the, are organised and run by the school. I don't know of any schools in my town which are NOT used for holiday activities, though in all cases, these are run by independent organisations and are paid for by parents. The school I teach at is running a two week summer literacy camp for those children who are coming up I'm September and need some extra help. This is run by the school and is free to those who have been invited to attend. A second activity, also running for a couple of weeks, and partly staffed by school staff is on, and afaik, that is also free, but also "invitation only".

The issue with schools setting up and running the activities would come down to money. The camp my DDs go to is run by a friend, and it's a full time job for him. He runs camps in 2 locations in all 6 of the school holidays, employs a number of staff, runs a website, deals with marketing, insurance and goodness knows what else. He's also a personal trainer, but the holiday camp business takes up a lot of his time. It's not something that could be tacked on to an existing school employee's workload, and so the money to set things up would have to come from somewhere. Whilst I think Raven's idea is workable, I am highly sceptical that the govt would be willing to provide the initial cash to set it up.

ravenAK Fri 02-Aug-13 02:24:09

Well, but we do have TR3s now precisely for setting stuff up.

I'd want nothing much to do with any of it, tbh, either as a teacher or as a parent - unless someone's offering good money to do a Latin summer school, say - but I have young, ambitious colleagues who'd be very much up for organising the whole provision if it were made worth their while & looked good on a CV.

It's moving increasingly to a business model - schools providing bespoke childcare to paying customers - & I think that's an insidious road to go down, but I can definitely see how you could make it workable on that basis.

MrButtercat Fri 02-Aug-13 07:32:59

Raven I wouldn't be happy with my dc being taught by teachers who have done "overtime" over the holidays.One of the reasons I'm in favour of longer holidays is because teachers(I was one)need them as much as kids.
If they don't then I'd rather they were doing something towards the classes they'll be teaching in September.

Tbh in my experience you could offer silly money but teachers would rather eat their own hair than deal with other people's kids over the hols.grin

thismousebites Fri 02-Aug-13 07:43:54

I like Ravens idea. Trainee teachers or those who are possibly single, childless and full of energy, would be ideal. It would also look good on a CV for anyone needing experience before going onto a PGCE.
We have NOTHING here, the schools don't put anything on over the hols. The leisure centres offer nothing, apart from a holiday club for children up to age 5, and the only thing the local council have on offer is a Real Ale Beer Festival.

MrButtercat Fri 02-Aug-13 08:05:49

Trainee teachers would be good as they could get much needed cash,plan etc.Could have a training course in June,time to plan in July.

Hulababy Fri 02-Aug-13 08:28:27

I think that actually the issue is nothing to do with schools and term times an everything to do with the lack of decent school holiday child are provision. It is the latter which needs to be addressed.

How do other countries deal with it when they have far longer holidays?

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