England’s state schools will be able to decide their own term date under government plans for more school autonomy, but It could spell the end of the six-week summer holiday.
State schools can already vary the shape of the school day and from September 2015 they’ll be able to change the terms too, a flexibility that academies already enjoy, the BBC reports.
Both government and opposition are pushing for greater powers to be devolved to individual schools, though they would still have to work within a legal minimum of 190 school days each year.
The DfE said that term times should be decided by heads and not councils: “It is right that all schools are free to set their own term dates in the interests of parents and pupils.”
Critics have warned that the changes will cause problems for parents who have to pay for childcare and whose children are in different schools. The NUT’s Christine Blower said it won’t even save parents money: “Holiday companies will almost certainly just expand the period over which they charge premium rates so there will be no benefit to families, or indeed the general public who will have fewer weeks of less expensive holidays,” she said.
ASCL’s Brian Lightman warned that parents with siblings in different schools would still expect local schools to agree common dates, so that they could plan family holidays: “The problem will come if no one is responsible for creating a co-ordinated calendar for an area and it turns into a free-for-all,” he said, “Somebody needs to take the lead locally on deciding term dates and it makes sense for this to be the local authority, even if schools aren’t required by law to follow it.”
What do you think of the end of the six-week summer break? As a parent, will you have problems in paying for more childcare, or with your children attending different schools with varying holidays?