Parents reject plans for longer summer holidays

Parents and teachers find the most rigorous term is January to Easter. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Parents and teachers find the most rigorous term is January to Easter. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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parents and teachers have overwhelmingly rejected plans to slash the school Christmas holiday and extend the summer break to seven weeks.

The “vast majority” of respondents who took part in a council consultation on term dates for the next three sessions said they wished the summer break to remain at six weeks.

City bosses launched the survey after proposing that the 2016 and 2017 Christmas breaks be reduced to less than two weeks, with the summer holiday lengthened to 
compensate.

Parents have knocked back the idea, stressing worn-out families would prefer a longer recovery period at Christmas and warning that more time off over summer would mean higher childcare bills.

Naomi Crowley, a member of the parent council at Broughton High, said: “Everyone is completely wiped out by the time you get to Christmas – you have a very long term leading up to it.

“And then the longer summer holiday would mean more childcare which parents would have to find. Personally, I quite like the idea of having a longer summer but I’m not surprised most parents are saying they don’t want it.”

Council leaders received 487 responses to their consultation on the changes, which were proposed after it emerged calendar “quirks” meant they would struggle to fit in the required 195 days of school opening and to give youngsters more time to enjoy the festival.

While arrangements for 2015-16, including a two-week Christmas break, have been approved, education chiefs will hold another survey – set to include all three Lothian councils and Fife – on term dates for 2016-17 onwards.

Teaching leaders have branded the proposals “plain daft”. Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said: “Christmas holidays are important to families – we need to recognise that.

“It’s also our view that, when it’s possible that there will be bad weather, keeping schools open longer is crazy. It’s dangerous for kids and staff.”

He added: “From a teacher’s perspective, the most rigorous term is January through to Easter.

“That’s when you have the greatest workload in terms of getting assessments finished, preparation for exams, curriculum development and so on – they would not want a shorter break at Christmas.”

Education bosses said families and teachers would be fully consulted on all changes.

Karen Prophet, senior education manager at the city council, said: “We will make sure that we fully engage. We will consult on the criteria and decide.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com