Changing School Term Times – Yes/No?
As we approach the summer school break, the subject of school term times is again raised. The argument of families being ripped off by holiday companies as they can only take holidays during break has valid points. Anyone who has been a regular reader of this blog will know I raised the issue of term times since 2010. The only success I had, was fixing the spring break from 2019. Though granted this might be made irrelevant under the new Bill
Currently, many schools have the power to set their own school term times, but from next year when – or should I say if – the Deregulation Bill becomes law, the rules will be further relaxed to allow all schools to set their term dates and times without prior approval from the Local Authority. Under the current system proposed term dates for community and voluntary-controlled schools in Cornwall are decided after consultation from education unions, Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council before the final decision is made by Councillors at Cornwall Council.
My greatest fear with a completely deregulated system is you could see wildy different school term times in Cornwall. This will lead to other problems. For example, a primary school might set one date, and the secondary another, which could cause a major issues if children are in different schools. There is also the issue of school transport. Too many different term times see an increase in costs for school transport. The current transport bill is £14m per year.
Cornwall Council is currently looking at options for the setting of term dates if the Bill is passed. These are in the early stages, but if any changes are accepted they need to be supported by the schools, Governors, and unions. I would include parents, with some caveats, as the school term times should be based on whats good for the children and their education, rather than just on having a cheaper holiday. Maybe the Government should be looking how the holiday industry massively increases its charges during the school summer holiday
Even with some deregulation, the term times for 2015/16 as agreed by partners, including those who are able to set their own dates, have remained in line with the broader holiday dates. Time will tell if the further deregulation see a more fractured term times in Cornwall.