Strike pledge over school summer holiday and term changes

boys on beach The government says too many school days are lost through term-time holidays

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Attempts to shorten school summer holidays and change terms in England could lead to more regional strike action by teachers.

National Union of Teachers members in Nottingham City plan to strike over the issue next Thursday and have asked NUT conference delegates to back them.

Nottingham City Council is planning to move schools to a five-term year with shorter summer holidays.

It says over the long break pupils can forget some of what they have learned.

With holiday prices rising dramatically in the summer, it says the changes could also help families get away outside the peak season.

Most state schools in England have three long terms with holidays at Christmas, Easter and in the summer, as well as half-term breaks. The summer break is typically five or six weeks long.

The plan for Nottingham is that from 2013, children would return to school in late August after a month-long break and then have a two-week break in the autumn, at Christmas, in spring and in late May.

There would be a long weekend break at Easter when this fell outside of the fixed spring break.

However, Nottinghamshire County Council is against making a similar change, meaning families in the area might have children with different holidays. It is consulting on the issue.

Longer hours fear

Under Labour, there was much discussion about schools changing their terms to this model.

And now, under the coalition's academy programme, schools or groups of schools will have more freedom to vary their days and terms.

Start Quote

I have no confidence that the travel industry would respond in a philanthropic way”

End Quote Christine Blower NUT general secretary

At its annual conference this Easter, NUT delegates will be asked to back a motion put forward by Nottinghamshire delegates which calls for "appropriate industrial action up to and including strike action" where "negotiations to resist imposed changes have failed".

The motion says the union is concerned that if the school day and year are extended, teachers may be expected to work longer hours for no extra pay.

It says the government wants to lengthen the school year and the school day, and adds that teachers need a long summer break to recharge their batteries.

"Conference is well aware of the long hours already worked by teachers and the essential need for a period of genuine rest and recuperation only found by many in the long summer break," it says.

But any action would only take place where there were plans to make such changes.

Travel industry

At a media conference on Thursday, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers Christine Blower said: "Teachers and pupils in England and Wales already spend longer in the classroom than others.

"One of the things Unicef finds is that children in the UK are the most unhappy children in the world. That isn't because they want to be in the classroom for longer."

She added that she did not think holiday companies would cut the price of summer holidays if terms changed.

Start Quote

There is an age-old problem of pupils falling back over the holidays because we've got a school year designed for children in the 1900s”

End Quote Department for Education

"I have no confidence that the travel industry would respond in a philanthropic way," she said.

The government wants schools to have freedom over when they are open. Some of the new academies and free schools are running classes on Saturdays and have made changes to the school day - such as beginning lessons earlier or finishing later.

Ministers are also concerned about parents taking their children out of school during term-time, saying this can damage a child's education and leave them struggling to catch up.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it was down to schools and local authorities to decide their own term dates and holidays - not government.

"The education profession and academics have been debating this issue for years. There is an age-old problem of pupils falling back over the holidays because we've got a school year designed for children in the 1900s.

"It's right that schools draw up term times in the best interests of their pupils. Creating four, five or six- term school years is not easy. Heads need to make sure it doesn't penalise families with children in different schools and get teachers on board."

Next Wednesday NUT members in London are to strike over pension changes.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Forgot to add time to grow up and live in the real world!

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Peak holiday time is whenever the schools are off. Move the holidays the peak time changes. Over the last 19 years ago my wife has been in school during the first and last week of the summer holidays sorting things out. In fact every holiday she will spend time doing school work. Add this to the 60 -70 hrs per week including work over weekends she is exhausted. She needs the summer holiday as is..

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Newsflash to Starbright 83........Simply putting 'Fact' before writing a sentence doesn't make it so!!!

    I've worked in the private sector for many years and recently changed to working in education and I can honestly say that this country does not value the teaching profession and consistently blame them for all children's ills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.


    It was the Tories who ruined the education of the kids in the seventies and before. The only time poor kids started to sit exams was when the Tories caused .the recession and raised the school leaving age to 16 to keep the unemployment artificially low

    In fact the Tories ruined the education of poor children when in office - Until Labour came in office only 5% of ALL children got degrees

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Just checked out holidays for the rest of Europe. 8 weeks summer is the minimum for the rest of Europe in some countries it's 12. I say all us teachers move abroad and see how the rest of this lot cope!

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Wow! You have 32 kids? You must be exhausted! Teachers have to do lesson plans because the government makes them and they have to deal with a fair few more characters and ability levels which need to be taken into account when selecting suitable material for aforementioned children. They also have to tick certain boxes most often at the say so of someone who at best hasn't taught for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Forgot what I'd learnt soon as I left the classroom. What I have learnt is that change is not always good or bad, but it always costs someone! No matter what!

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Usual division between those who have actually done the job & those who think they know what it involves. I have worked in 2ndary teaching, industry, academic research and the private sector and compared with teaching most people don't know they've been born.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Since you poor dear things are so stressed out (trying working all year round as we do in the private sector) shorter terms providing more frequent breaks will help you out. Stop moaning and get on with it. The rest of us have been told we have to work longer, have pension contributions increased and final salary schemes closed. We had no choice, why should teachers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    #72 Teachers are paid rigidly for the 1,265 contracted hours they work, BY the hour.
    If you divide this figure by the average working week of 37.5 hours, this equates to approximately 33.5 weeks annually. Most employees work 45 - 46 weeks (including bank holidays). So, even though there are many aspects of teaching I would not enjoy (the same for any job I'm sure), the holidays I certainly would!

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Teacher need to "Recharge their batteries" what a load of rubbish, they are not the only ones who work hard but they get paid much more than most of us so put up with it

    Another 'Luddite' view from Teachers, they reject on a Kneejerk basis to any and all changes. If you don't like the job, get another then you would learn how hard the rest of us have to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    They forget what they have learnt over the summer break? Goodness in the US they have around 13 weeks summer break, amazing that American kids ever graduate on that basis!

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Very simple solution. Let schools decide their own term times. If they can get agreement from their staff and from parents then just let them have whatever structure they want. That would solve this problem immediately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    "Heads need to make sure it doesn't penalise families with children in different schools and get teachers on board."

    What happened to the good old days when one parent worked and one parent looked after the family? Then this wouldn't be a problem. It wasn't a problem for my parents and it wasn't a problem with us. But then we weren't greedy and expecting others to pay for our lifestyle choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    #103 Gusgog - I know I'm lucky! My comment wasn't complaining, it was just pointing out, as so many others have, that teaching does not start and end in the clasroom with the students. I love my job, the kids are (mostly) great, and the rewards of it are more than just the holiday by far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    It is well known that school summer holidays are absolutely obscene. It was only a matter of time before this happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    I have several friends who are teachers, and one a school governer.
    One used to work trying to teach teenagers how to read and write AFTER they had completed education.
    One tells me teaching would be ok if teachers were in charge, not kids.
    The governer tells me that the problem is categorising kids of 3 as special needs, some of the time by untrained assistant staff.
    None mentioned holidays!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Most families find their own adolescent children hard to cope with, but teachers have to face large groups of teenagers all day every day, year in year out.
    The school holidays are not a perk but a necessity to keep teachers sane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Manchesterisred many teachers do choose to change profession. I can only assume that your teacher friend will be spending the other three/fourweeks of his/her holiday preparing for school work considering e olympicsonly runs for 16 days!

    If not I would question his/her dedication to her profession!

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    We're trying to make the education system do too many things. It should not be a childcare system. I was once a teacher and when I stopped my stress levels dropped, my health improved and pay went up. But I worked harder,did longer hours, & had shorter holidays in my new job. So what is the problem that makes teaching so stressful? Solve that and get teachers on normal working patterns.


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