Poll: Do you support the idea of Norfolk schools moving to a four-week summer holiday?

Norfolk families could have a shorter summer holiday in the future. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. Norfolk families could have a shorter summer holiday in the future. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
9:23 AM

The traditional six-week school summer holiday could become a thing of the past as Norfolk headteachers debate moving to a six-term school year.

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The idea, which if adopted could come into effect as early as September 2015, is being considered by the recently-restructured Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders (NSEL) association, which includes 52 of the county’s 54 high schools.

Last week secretary of state for education Michael Gove said it was wrong for parents to take children out of school to take advantage of cheaper holidays, and urged parents to put pressure on schools to use their powers to change term dates to let pupils go on holiday at different times.

Norfolk education leaders said the total number of holidays in a year would remain the same, but they would be distributed more evenly throughout the year, with four weeks during the summer, and two-week holidays between terms.

George Denby, headteacher of Caister High School and chairman of NSEL, said: “It makes sense that we get a collective agreement and look at changing the structure of the school year. Perhaps we are looking at a five or six-term structure over the year.”

School holidays and travel companies

Parents have long complained about how much more travel companies charge them to go on holiday during school holidays.

The issue has risen up the political agenda as more parents are fined £60 for taking their children out of school to take advantage of cheaper holidays during term time.

Last week MPs debated an e-petition, signed by more the 170,000 people, urging the government to cap the amount that travel companies are allowed to increase the cost of holidays during school breaks.

However, business minister Jenny Willott said: “We feel that it is a commercial matter for the businesses concerned and that the Government should not intervene. It is not for the Government to dictate to any particular market how it should charge for its services, or to intervene unless there is evidence of market distortion or market failure.”

Education secretary of state Michael Gove accused holiday companies of “attempting to essentially fleece parents”.

He added: “Schools now have the freedom to change their term dates in order to allow students and families the opportunity to go on holiday at different times. My own view is that the holiday industry needs to ask if it is doing enough.”

He added: “It should enable people to have cheaper holidays more frequently. One of the things we face in the coastal regions is that parents work extremely hard in the summer period and then of course they want their holiday, and this might help lessen that problem for them, where they get two weeks in October where they can legitimately take a two-week holiday.”

The current two-week holiday over Easter, which changes dates every year, would instead become a four-day holiday covering Good Friday to Easter Monday only.

Parents and teachers would be consulted before any change to the school year was made.

The re-examination of the school year is being linked to a reassessment of how schools manage pupils’ transition from primary to secondary school. A questionnaire about that has been sent to all schools.

Rob Anthony, senior associate head at the Hewett School in Norwich, sits on the working party examining the structure of the school year and said pupils missing a week or two from school to go on holiday was a “real problem” because they fell behind the rest of their class.

He said the discussions were at a very early stage, and added: “If we can find a model that’s better than we have then the idea is that everyone moves to that model, as it would be hard for an individual school to say ‘We don’t like that model, we are not going to do it’.”

However, Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, warned a shorter summer break could damage the region’s tourist industry.

He said: “The less holiday time there is for families during the months when Britain has a good chance of sun, the more detrimental it will be to the domestic visitor economy.

“Family holidays and trips are very weather dependent, and people are now more likely to wait until nearer the time before making their decision. So if the weather is predicted to be poor, there is every chance families will look to destinations where they can guarantee sun, and that means abroad.”

37 comments

  • This is nonsense...longer summer holidays on the continent doesn't damage education and foreign governments don't get so precious about a few weeks' holiday in term time which can be very educational and extremely important for good family life. Private schs do ok with much longer holidays.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • School holidays are far too long. Two weeks at Christmas, a week at Easter and two weeks in the summer, with a further two weeks that can be taken anytime would be ideal. Thats still seven weeks a year and would stop parents and teachers moaning about the cost of package holidays during the school holidays.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • They have been saying this since I was at school many many many years ago !

    Report this comment

    Cherryiceuk

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • V u must have some serious mental health probs...for goodness sake get help. U r almost psychopathic

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Get "V" off of here..he is on a rant knocking teachers YET again. What is it with him?.I blame his potty training.?

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • School holidays are far too long. Two weeks at Christmas, a week at Easter and two weeks in the summer, with a further two weeks that can be taken anytime would be ideal. Thats still seven weeks a year and would stop parents and teachers moaning about the cost of package holidays during the school holidays.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Leave the holidays alone...a teacher may get 13wks a year...but the reality is they work an awful lot of those. I have a husband 8 weeks of the year...the weeks he actually has fully free to switch off and NOT do ANYTHING teaching related. 4 of those weeks are in summer holidays. And I will dare to say this is true for almost all families with at least one teacher in it.

    Report this comment

    becksy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • I would dearly love to have 8 weeks to fully switch off, but in other jobs - like most other non-teachers, we get 5 or 6 weeks and most of that is spent covering childcare rather than actually enjoying ourselves. I am all for a 4 week summer and 2 week XmasEasterhalf terms as I will then have a choice of 6 times per year and not 3 when I can take my 2 weeks of "switching off time" with my family without being fined £360 for taking my children out of school.

    Report this comment

    PlummyMum

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Leave the holidays alone...a teacher may get 13wks a year...but the reality is they work an awful lot of those. I have a husband 8 weeks of the year...the weeks he actually has fully free to switch off and NOT do ANYTHING teaching related. 4 of those weeks are in summer holidays. And I will dare to say this is true for almost all families with at least one teacher in it.

    Report this comment

    becksy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Look, the holidays are ok as they are but get the teachers to do their in service days during the holidays and lets see the kids do a full day at school not finish just after lunch.

    Report this comment

    gerry mitson

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • No one should be listening to Gove, the man is warped. And no one should be listening to Denby, who has always been more of a businessman than a headteacher and with no great reputation for academic performance if league tables are a guide nor pastoral care if student satisfaction is a guide. Everyone who uses airlines will know even an F1 meet can lead to fare hikes and that package holiday providers will raise prices for every holiday, just as they do now. Education has become a mire of mediocrity run by those whose careers are being built on tweaking it constantly. With businessmen in charge we can expect kids to be confined to school all year round, not being educated but being trained and the only people who will benefit will be the companies taking over the provision of services.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • "Norfolk education leaders said the total number of holidays in a year would remain the same..." WHY ?. Less holidays, and longer hours. Just waiting for the poor "overworked" teachers and unions to start up (Oh, I forgot, Larson as well).

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • School holidays in the UK appear to be shorter than Europe. Ireland for instance get two weeks at Christmas, two weeks at Easter and the second level schools get June, July and August off, national schools only get July and August off. It's great when the schools are shut as the traffic around Dublin is a lot lighter!

    Report this comment

    RoadWarrior

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • I'm sure teachers will be delighted. NOT

    Report this comment

    Sherbert

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Dead right, I'll go for this and then some!! 2 weeks more that I can go on a child (brat) free holiday, and not have to endure the rugrats spoiling MY holiday, bring it on!!

    Report this comment

    windup

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Leave the holidays alone...a teacher may get 13wks a year...but the reality is they work an awful lot of those. I have a husband 8 weeks of the year...the weeks he actually has fully free to switch off and NOT do ANYTHING teaching related. 4 of those weeks are in summer holidays. And I will dare to say this is true for almost all families with at least one teacher in it.

    Report this comment

    becksy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Why worry about V's rabid rants since no one believes his ignorant, stupid comments except those as twisted as he clearly is.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Friday, March 7, 2014

  • Of course, it won't make any difference to the holiday prices - companies will look at when the shifted high-demand is and make sure they charge twice as much for that period. Plus, it'll reduce the period of choice for parents to take their kids anywhere, leading to a tighter squeeze on prices and availability, probably leading to even higher prices. As for "six terms", all they're doing is renaming each half-term as a full-term. It's not a real change.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Holidays are not for the teachers they are for the kids. And if parents cared for their kids they would recognise the benefits of having a long break from the school routine. Americans manage to have summer camps, the French seem to manage to get away to the resorts. I wonder how many families are working two jobs to pay for a house larger than they need, two cars, clothes specifically for work, takeaways and ready meals when they have no time to cook and childcare fees. And their kids have the lives of little prisoners to Gove's mates in the industry of childcare provision , academies, free schools and apparently most of the comprehensives in Norfolk. I realise many families do struggle to make ends meet, but they can't be any worse off than 1950s ag labs whose kids went to grammar school, enjoyed six or seven week school holidays and now see their grandchildren enduring the cumulative effects of the worst approach to education we have had in this country since Victorian payment by results.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • "Norfolk education leaders said the total number of holidays in a year would remain the same..." WHY ?. Less holidays, and longer hours. Just waiting for the poor "overworked" teachers and unions to start up (Oh, I forgot, Larson as well).

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • We always hear about parents not being able to get cheaper holidays, and I am sympathetic to this in as much as the holiday industry do raise the prices of holidays during this period, but let's look at the flip side to this, most of us who do not have young children are unable to take the summer holidays or half term, etc., off work because these weeks have been booked by the people who have children. You can't have it both ways! If we have to work during the nice weather and you can take your children to the seaside in this country when the weather is nice then you can have a cheap holiday without going abroad and we can have the cheaper holidays abroad at the only time we can take leave from work... when the weather is not as nice in this country.

    Report this comment

    Shanski

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • gerry mitson - the training days do come out of teacher's holidays, not the kids' school time.

    Report this comment

    mandybrigwell

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Leave the holidays alone...a teacher may get 13wks a year...but the reality is they work an awful lot of those. I have a husband 8 weeks of the year...the weeks he actually has fully free to switch off and NOT do ANYTHING teaching related. 4 of those weeks are in summer holidays. And I will dare to say this is true for almost all families with at least one teacher in it.

    Report this comment

    becksy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • To be honest, I'm not too bothered what the holidays are so long as they are the same for all schools in Norfolk It would be really annoying to have my children having different holidays - would make childcare a nightmare and also reduce family time.

    Report this comment

    canarycaz

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • "V", you always sound so angry when you post. Whether its about school teachers or NHS staff you always sound furious? Why is this?

    Report this comment

    Tootyfrooty

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Fine for secondary schools, and probably juniors, but infants are a different matter. Having a four week break for all would not work, families with children of different ages would find it a nightmare if they weren't all the same holidays...or even those on the edges of catchment areas.

    Report this comment

    David & Brian

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • When that volcano in iceland grounded all the planes, half the teachers in Norfolk missed the first few days of the new term, and half the schools had to shut. Why do teachers fly abroad on the last two weeks of their holidays, planning to land back in England the day before the new term starts, and why do NCC pay them when an emergency leaves them stuck in Tuscany or Kos for the first week of the school term?

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

  • Leave the holidays alone...a teacher may get 13wks a year...but the reality is they work an awful lot of those. I have a husband 8 weeks of the year...the weeks he actually has fully free to switch off and NOT do ANYTHING teaching related. 4 of those weeks are in summer holidays. And I will dare to say this is true for almost all families with at least one teacher in it.

    Report this comment

    becksy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • "..."V", you always sound so angry when you post... Why is this?....". Because he says he hates all teachers . That's every one of them in the country. And being a well known Archant troll he has nothing better to do all day than attempt to wind people up for his own weird enjoyment.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Eight weeks a year Becksy? That is 40 days holiday a year! I do not know anyone who gets that amount of holiday. I am afraid that I do not buy the "nobody works as hard as us teachers" line either. I leave before my teacher neighbours in the morning (they work farther from home) and arrive home (well) after they do.

    Report this comment

    ScotCan

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • "Norfolk education leaders said the total number of holidays in a year would remain the same..." WHY ?. Less holidays, and longer hours. Just waiting for the poor "overworked" teachers and unions to start up (Oh, I forgot, Larson as well).

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • V underlines in almost every sentence how little they understand about education. Simply r-using lessons plans each year, copying the same syllabus, shows that a phrase like "Assessment for learning" means nothing to them. Judging education by the standards you may remember from your own childhood is no way to judge or comment on the work of teachers today. As ever, a rabid group make sweeping assumptions that all teachers are left wing agitators. The truth is that they aren't, but some people don't want to know the truth !

    Report this comment

    Nich

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

  • This is nothing more than a PR exercise on behalf of 'Academy UK PLC' in conjunction with those overpaid idiots at the LEA - of course parents want cheaper holidays and it's in the interests of Children's Services to bring down absenteeism because of this particular bugbear but don't let the likes of Mick Castle tell you all that his department has got better because of this silly little tweak. The truth is that Norfolk CC continues to fail badly when it comes to education and all of our children continue to suffer as a result of their ineptitude.

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

  • " half the teachers in Norfolk missed the first few days of the new term," Get real Camberwick and stop generalising..did they all fly to Iceland as you suggest? "Why do teachers fly abroad on the last two weeks of their holidays, planning to land back in England the day before the new term starts". I for one could never afford to take my family abroad as it was too expensive..especially during the school holidays we were forced to take ;-). Now retired so enjoy the cheaper prices. Every cloud has a silver lining !

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

  • V u poor thing.....get help mate!! My 4 children's teachers r all great and I would shout if they weren't since in my line of work u get the sack but we don't work night and day like the kids' teachers.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • OK, I'm confused! Proposing '...two-week holidays between terms' but Easter, currently a 2 week holiday between terms, moving to '...a four-day holiday covering Good Friday to Easter Monday only'. Is the proposal that Easter is reduced but another 2 week break put in it's place that is not subject to such vagueries as the dates of the Easter weekend? I can see the holiday industry response already but have little sympathy for an industry that has been milking the family market so well for years.

    Report this comment

    Eastangler

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Give it try, I would welcome the absence of squealing kids and surly teenagers in Norwich city centre for six long weeks during summer.

    Report this comment

    NigelS

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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