The Guardian has done a touch of fact checking after Michael Gove’s suggestion that longer school days and shorter holidays are achieving better results for children in the Far East. They make no comment about the length of the school days (so perhaps Mr Gove was right about that) but report that holidays do not actually seem to be shorter…
England’s schools should think about lengthening the working day and cutting the holidays, as this seems to work in the Far East, Michael Gove told reporters last week. This won coverage for different practices in some academy schools. But is his claim about what goes on in the far east true? It seems not, at least in respect of summer holidays.
He was reported as saying we should emulate Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. But in Singapore there is a long school break this year, from 16 November to 31 December, which is six weeks. In Hong Kong , the government specifies an annual minimum of 190 teaching days, the same as here. In China, holidays seem to start in early July and end in late August, while in high-performing Shanghai last year they seemed to run from 28 June to 23 August: eight weeks. Most European countries have summer holidays of at least nine weeks.
We recently fact-checked a claim from Gove about “easy” science GCSE questions. We’re beginning to wonder if this column needs to fact-check every time the education secretary speaks.