It’s time to shorten school summer holidays

Here we go again. At the end of next week, schools in England and Wales break up for the long summer holiday, children in Scotland and Northern Ireland already having finished their summer term. Sky News reports

Parents around the country begin scratching their heads about how to juggle work and childcare responsibilities, sighing as they hand over vast sums to activity organisers, childminders or rail companies as they parcel the little darlings off to their grandparents.

It is very odd that, given how governments of all parties have sought in recent years to reduce the cost of childcare and make it easier for parents to work, the UK still does the exact opposite every summer by persisting in having ludicrously long school holidays.

Michael Gove, when he was Secretary of State for Education, favoured change. Never one to avoid a confrontation with what he called ‘the Blob’ – the educational establishment and the teaching unions – he called for longer school days and shorter school holidays, the kind of arrangement common in East Asia, where educational standards in China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan vastly exceed those of most western economies including Britain.

Paying for childcare during school holidays obviously costs poorer families disproportionately more, but there are also other costs that come with long holidays, notably the provision of meals.

Child poverty campaigners have argued for years that many of Britain’s most disadvantaged children do not get access to nutritious meals and the opportunity to participate in physical exercise during the holidays. A shorter summer break would prevent that

Something ministers should consider is giving schools or local authorities greater autonomy to set term times. This could be problematic for families where siblings attend different schools but has the potential to benefit many more.

Read the full article It’s time to shorten school summer holidays

What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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