Will School Terms Times Change in Cornwall?

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.

2 comments

  • Gill Martin

    Regarding length of a school day I personally would prefer to see it altered to a start time of 08:00 or 08:30 and to finish earlier.

  • Steve Haynes

    Apart from the potential reality of 25,000 different schools setting 25,000 different holidays, there’s an underlying principle that these are a children’s holidays. Summer, in particular, is a time in which children have the freedom to explore and grow (in every sense), especially Cornish children. Education is not something that only happens in school, it is a fundamental part of life.

    Gove’s agenda is to introduce free market economics into the education system and he wants to give schools as many ways as possible to compete (and flexibility in term times is one of them). He also has an obsession with far-east school systems where they work their children to death in education systems that mimic factory farming. He also wants to undermine teachers’ contracts which specify the amount of hours they are paid to teach. Interestingly, public schools actually have longer holidays than state schools – quantity is not quality.

    As you say, it will probably make little difference as most heads will sensible keep things as stable as possible in uncertain times, but parents should not be bullied by institutions and special interest groups into devaluing the essential free time that every child should have.

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