Controversial plans to extend the school summer break while slashing Christmas holidays have been branded “strange” and “out of kilter” with current education policies.
Eyebrows have been raised by shadow education chiefs and parent representatives over a move to reduce festive holidays to one-and-a-half weeks while giving pupils an extra week off in the summer.
The holiday switch has been mooted for “calendar reasons” according to an education source and has been published for consultation.
It means the summer break would be increased to seven weeks.
Today, critics claimed it could spark problems for working parents.
Lindsay Law, parent representative on the education committee, said any changes to the school rota should be to “benefit children’s education” and not to satisfy anomalies on the calendar. She said: “Seven-week summer holidays are not particularly good for people with additional support needs because they get a set amount of care over the summer holidays.
“It is against the direction of travel to have longer and longer holidays. My point of view as a parent representative is that we don’t want to change holidays on the basis of calender events – we want holidays to be the right length to benefit children’s education.”
The potential overhaul comes days after the Evening News revealed how the Capital is facing a £17 million black hole for essential repairs and maintenance work on the school estate.
Education chiefs need to spend around £24.7m on problems such as loose masonry, broken windows, heating failures and blocked toilets over the next five years – but only £7.5m is available.
Lib Dem education spokesman Councillor Robert Aldridge said he was not convinced by the logic of changing holiday periods.
“I have no idea at all why this is being considered,” he said. “It does seem strange because I know there have been discussions in the past about if the long summer break was too long.”
Tory education chief Cllr Jason Rust said: “I’m surprised they would be looking to shorten the Christmas holiday as an additional week to the summer break could create further issues for working parents and employers.”
The consultation period on the proposed shake-up will run until March 28.
Cllr Paul Godzik, education convener, said: “It has gone out for consultation and we will be looking very carefully at what parents and teachers have to say about this. We will reflect on the views that come in from the consultation.”