Head teachers to look at staggered school holidays

Head teachers are to investigate the benefits of scrapping the six-week school summer holiday and spread breaks more evenly through the year. It is hoped the proposals, which were discussed at the National Association of Head Teachers conference, would reduce stress and cut holiday prices for families. But head teachers have called for more evidence of the benefits of such changes before officially backing the move.

The government gave academies and free schools in England permission to vary term times earlier this year and the permission is due to be extended to all state schools next September. Support from the head teachers union would mean schools would be more likely to make changes to term times.

The move also comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove toughened up rules on parents taking their children out of schools at term times for family holidays. Now schools are only supposed to give permission for absence in “exceptional circumstances”, leaving parents unable to take advantage of lower holiday prices available during term-time only.

NAHT leader Russell Hobby indicated the union would like to look at the effect of staggering school holidays around the country, so different regions would have slightly different holiday times to ease pressure on holiday prices.

“One of the things that I’m concerned about is whether the current structure of holidays is also healthy for the people who work in schools as well,” he said. “It seems like, at the end of term, everyone is ready to drop and that actually, not reducing the amount of holiday but distributing it more evenly across the year might be one solution to that.”

He added: “However, we don’t have any particular liking for every school going its own way. We would like to see local or regional co-ordination, but at that point you could also have the opportunity to have a staggering of holidays around the country.
“So if different parts of the country within local authority boundaries or regional boundaries had slightly different holiday times I think that would ease the pressure on the prices of holidays as well.”

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