Yesterday, the Government via the DfE announced it would allow all Local Authority schools to change – if they wish – their school term lengths and times from 2015. To date, the local authority is required to set term and holiday dates for community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools, pupil referral units and maintained nursery schools. These powers of changing terms are already afforded to Academy Schools.
To a point I welcome this news, as back in 2010 I started to ask the question on reviewing term times in Cornwall. I was told it was complex and would not be easy to do. In the end the idea – via the scrutiny committee – was not taken forward. However, it was agreed that work would be done on fixing the spring break. And from 2019 it was planned to have a fixed spring break.
The point I don’t really welcome is there is the potential for school to have a multitude of different term times. Which if a family had children at different schools, could lead to difficulties during holidays and childcare. I know Academy Schools can do this already, but as yet, I don’t think any have changed their term times in Cornwall.
I would have preferred a more holistic approach with the LA taking the lead in arranging the consultation, and if there is support for a change, implementing it across schools. These discussions would have to include the Academies, but they are not bound to take on any changes. Doing it this way, would give a more joined up approach to our schools. I guess the DfE thinks differently, which is nothing new.
My view is any change should only be done for the benefit of the students. Others may argue that it could help with working families, the family holiday, childcare and for the economics of the area; like in tourism. A change nationally, might see the end of the six-week tourist season, to a more longer and beneficial economy.
It should be noted, all schools have the power to set the length of the school day with no real restrictions on how long a day should be. The only restriction schools have is to have a minimum 190 school days in a year.