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Dad wins high court term-time holiday case

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Godmeister, May 13, 2016.

  1. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Well, it must work to some extent, as the whole of England (for example) doesn't have its school holidays at the same time; there have also been local variations, usually based histroically on factory holidays. Leicester schools, for example, have always gone back to school during August, and I think had two weeks at autumn half-term.
  2. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    And how often, in the past, did this mean that one or more children in a family would miss the last/first week of term?

    Pretty often, at the start of my career in the early 1980s, I seem to remember...
  3. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter

    There is another issue here, that of school holidays in general.

    We have a pretty shambolic system at the moment. A school year is 39 weeks, so we should have 3 terms of 13 weeks each.

    The year starts at the start of September, which is fixed (so the vagaries of which Monday is first in the month alters by a week), and Christmas is always 25th December, so the first term is almost always 14 or 15 weeks.

    Then we have the remaining weeks split between two terms, which can be fairly even, or ridiculously uneven, depending on the date of Easter. If Easter comes early you occasionally have the ridiculous situation where a half term before Christmas is as long as full term in the spring.

    Followed by a massive 6 week holiday, where everyone I talk to (staff and students) gets bored towards the end.

    Maybe we should restructure the whole thing from scratch.
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Not really likely to happen unless you can persuade the church to change the date of Christmas and fix the date of Easter...

    And many other countries (plus independent schools in the UK) have much longer summer holidays - 8 weeks or more. FWIW I never got bored during them, either as pupil or teacher. Only boring people get bored, IMHO.
  5. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Lots of areas / academies have experimented with a 5 term year - 5 terms of 8 weeks. Easter isn't a problem - if the dates fall outside a holiday period, then schools are closed on Good Friday & Easter Monday, like many other jobs. That's what happens in my area.

    However, the holiday dates do need to be selected with care!! In the days of CTCs, we had a local one which had a 5 term year. No problem, until, at their suggestion, the LA decided to trial it in all schools across their area of the county. The holiday dates came through - and I discovered to my joy that my junior school would be on holiday during KS2 SATs week. It was great glee I informed the LA of this fact. We never heard any more about doing what the CTC wanted!
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    The 4 term year, the 5 term year and even the 6 term year (we called them 'half-terms) were all discussed, and trialled in places during my career. But all have disadvantages, to mention one - the national Bank Holidays at present all (save the 'May Day' one) fall within school holidays - they didn't with some of the alternatives on offer. Which meant families who wanted to take a week's holiday (whilst only using 4 'working' days off their jobs) couldn't.

    I'm also not convinced that a shorter summer holiday is a good idea either - it would mean far more families couldn't take time off work for family holidays so either had to forego them or - more likely - take their children out of school.
  7. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter

    Nice insult there, Frank. Helps keep the discussion interesting.

    Perhaps 'boring' is the wrong word. Jaded? The problem is, and maybe this is just my age, the longer the holiday the harder I find it get started again afterwards.

    Whatever, I think I'd personally get more out of the holidays if they were spread out. Maybe 5 at summer and increase Spring Bank half term? Or 4 in the Summer, and two each for October half term and Spring Bank? No idea if that works, just an idea of what would be nice.

    By the way, there are noises coming from the churches that they might be moving to a common date for Easter, which is being suggested as the 2nd or 3rd Sunday in April, which is fairly central between Christmas and mid-July.

    Of course, it would be more than possible to move the 'Spring' break to then, and just have Good Friday/Easter Monday off as odd days (as we do with May Day) if they don't fall within the holiday that year.
  8. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter

    Fair points, if we're looking for possible pitfalls, but we should be careful to ensure they're not used as an excuse not to investigate further. We shouldn't see problems and decide to do nothing because they exist. We should try to see ways to work round them.

    By the way, let's look at the 8 bank holidays and see if they'd be a problem:

    1 New Years Day (will never be a problem, as will always fall in the winter break)
    2 Good Friday (not a problem if/when Easter is fixed to a sensible date)
    3 Easter Monday (ditto)
    4 May Day (already not in school holidays, as you note)
    5 Spring Bank (not fixed - has been moved before - could be moved again - easy to work round)
    6 August Bank Holiday (probably wouldn't need to be moved, as will probably fall during the summer break, but could be moved if necessary)
    7 Christmas Day (will always be during the winter break)
    8 Boxing Day (ditto)

    So, looking at that, there's no large problem.

    Indeed, if we fix Easter, we can probably move the others at a whim if we wanted anyway.

    If the worst that happened was that children lost perhaps 2 extra school days a year, then that's hardly a nightmare scenario.
  9. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    How about a really radical solution?

    Don't mess about with the school year, don't break the country down into regions...
    Just allow headteachers the freedom to approve holidays in term time.

    How about only fining the parents of those pupils whose attendance falls below 90% (as an example, not a carefully considered number) without any medical or other recognised justification?
    How about not fining them at all but paying for them to attend 2 weeks or whatever of extra school during the holidays?

    Why are headteachers trusted with the education of hundreds, if not thousands, of children, with the careers of teachers and support staff...but are deemed incapable of deciding whether a 2 week holiday will have a lasting impact on a pupil's long term education?

    I can see why civil servants would want to collect all the power into their little empires...but I cannot see why ministers would allow it. Especially conservative ministers who should be looking at how power can be devolved, so reducing 'big government' and enhancing 'local freedom/responsibility'.
  10. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I think with this government, they think 'freedom' means 'We're free to tell you to do it our way'. In so many ways they seem to be centralising everything so it's within their control.
    delnon and harsh-but-fair like this.
  11. SteveWoodhouse

    SteveWoodhouse Occasional commenter

    I largely agree, though I'm not sure the other suggestions would do any harm on top of that.

    The problem is that, if the policy was as simple as that, many heads would just always say yes. At least that's the fear, I suspect.
  12. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    I agree and it worries me.

    If the government centralises control, they also take on the responsibility....but politicians will never allow themselves to be seen to fail.
    I can only foresee two outcomes of this; constant change, so the failure is never evidenced or constant blaming of teachers 'Blob' or 'enemies of promise' style. "If only those teacher's weren't so feckless/workshy/incompetent/lefty sandal wearers/insert insult of choice, then our reforms would have worked by now..."

    Hmmm, that sort of describes the current situation, doesn't it?

    Back to the holiday issue...if it's so blindingly obvious that a few weeks off school destroys life chances, how come we haven't been presented with any evidence to support that point?
    I'm sure that the majority of parents would be 'on board' if the impact were indisputable.
    delnon likes this.
  13. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    But the policy used to be as simple as that, heads did have the discretion to approve holidays.

    According to the Statistical First Release:
    Does that sound like head's were 'just always saying yes'? Does it even sound like a problem so big that it needed to be resolved by fining anyone with the temerity to go on holiday?

    From the same document:
    Surely, this is the issue that needs to be addressed?

  14. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    'Only boring people get bored' is what I told pupils who complained about whatever work they were doing (with me or a colleague). I actually think it is, by & large, true.
    harsh-but-fair likes this.
  15. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I'd also suggest that the vast majority of teachers would prefer 6 weeks (or longer, as in many other countries), rather than shorter breaks.
  16. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter

    You might suggest that, but it's not my experience in talking to staff.

    The main comments I hear about the length of terms/timing of holidays are that the autumn term is too long, with everyone absolutely out of it by Christmas, and that it's ridiculous that the two terms after Christmas vary in length so much.

    Of course we'd all like longer holidays, but I don't think anyone would want a longer summer break at the expense of shorter holidays elsewhere.

    You're right that, for example, the Americans get a longer summer than us. But it should be noted that children are in school for a lot less time over the year. In the UK the school year lasts 39 weeks (195 days), in the US they have 180 days (36 weeks).
  17. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter

    Yes, I use the same phrase. With students, that is.

    I'd never dream of using it at a fellow professional, who I'd never met.
  18. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter

    I agree, it should be left to heads.

    A quick question. If a student shows persistent absence throughout the year, their parents can suffer a hefty fine, or even imprisonment.

    If a parent takes a child out of school for a holiday they can receive a relatively small fine.

    But if that holiday is in addition to lots of days off during the rest of the year, can it still count towards a prosecution for persistent absence? And if it can, is that happening in practice?
  19. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    You seem too thin skinned to be a teacher....
  20. SteveKindle

    SteveKindle Occasional commenter


    Well, that's my career down the drain, as judged by someone who has never met be, based on a response to a very rude post.

    I think the TES forums would probably work best without people trying to score points with personal comments. Let's just stick to the discussion, rather than posting personal abuse.

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