In a move that is a first in England, one local council has decided to make cuts to the school summer holidays that trims the length of the vacation for students to fall short of five weeks.
Barnsley Council in South Yorkshire recently made the term dates for the 2017-18 academic year available to the public on their website, including a shortened summer break which will begin on July 31, 2018.
While the final term date this year is set to be July 20, schools will continue for an additional week in 2017, breaking for summer on July 26.
According to the new schedule, the summer holiday will last for just 34 days, although a start date for September 2018 has not yet been released. The vacation period will be nine days shorter than the previous year, cutting the time by almost two weeks.
In order to make up for the lost vacation time, students will receive an extra week off from school in October.
Many are criticizing the move, particularly headteachers and teaching staff, writes Kayleigh Dray for Closer.
Horizon community college head teacher Nick Bowen felt that the council needs to review their decision, arguing that they had not consulted enough with school leaders. In addition, he said the move would cause schools to be less able to hire and keep high-quality staff members, adding that teachers not only want, but also need, a break in order to “recharge their batteries.”
“There is also the fact that most of the academies in the area probably won’t come on board with it, so everyone will have different holidays,” he added. “And it will be a disaster in terms of attendance because parents who have multiple children will have to take other siblings out of school if the holidays don’t match.”
Simon Murch of the National Union of Teachers said that he felt the idea was not carefully thought out, and he believed the consultation was still ongoing with no final decision having been reached as of yet, writes Lizzie Dearden for The Independent.
However, the council maintains that the dates decided upon had the potential to be economically beneficial for working parents, the majority of whom seemed to approve of the move.
Cllr Tim Cheetham said: “The decision to alter the borough’s term times and holiday dates is based on sound research evidence that shows the maximum length of the summer break should be no more than five weeks for the best educational outcomes.”
A number of parents have commented on the issue on BBC Look North’s Facebook page. While some are against it, saying it will be difficult to plan summer vacations when their children have conflicting school schedules, others believed moving an extra week to another time offered parents additional flexibility in planning holidays and childcare.
Barnsley has a total of 78 elementary schools. Of those, 31 are academies enrolling children between the ages of five and eleven. There are ten advanced learning centers, four of which are academies for children between the ages of 11 and 18.