Secret Teacher: should school holidays be shorter? I’m in favour

Writing in the Guardian, the latest Secret Teacher says that with social services at breaking point, schools must do whatever it takes to protect vulnerable students over the summer – even if it means less time off.

…I know the idea of a reduced break would enrage the unions and see even more teachers to consider quitting. But I want less time off for the sake of my students’ wellbeing.

I am the headteacher of a school where 100% of children are eligible for the pupil premium. Many of them dread the long summer break because it means their secure environment, structure and routines suddenly disappear. In addition to falling behind in their studies, they lose the dignity that school quietly provides. As well as offering a safe and secure place for learning, the staff here bring in food for students’ breakfasts and wash clothes that are soiled after weeks of continuous wear. We keep an ample supply of shower gel, deodorant, shampoo, combs, toothpaste and brushes to support hygiene. Most importantly, we have a team of professionals who act not only as surrogates for parents but also for social services…

Perhaps the most powerful argument against a shorter summer is teacher workloads, which are now more unbearable than ever. You might think I am a fool to think less time off won’t mean more work. But the solution is surely to make the job more manageable during the year, with far fewer unnecessary tasks…

So as the world around us changes maybe we need to readdress the role of the teacher. Sadly, I do believe that certain elements of our society are broken, and that schools have a critical role in protecting and safeguarding young people now…

More at: Secret Teacher: should school holidays be shorter? I’m in favour


A powerful argument from this week’s Secret Teacher – what do you say? 

Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link

Schools braced for turmoil after warnings that changes will cause top grades to fall to an eight-year low
Soaring student rents push college accommodation to brink of crisis
Categories: Leadership and Teaching.


  1. TheMrsM

    I agree with shorter holidays if the argument is about the disruption to learning but I don’t agree with this at all. Teachers are not social workers. Of course we have a pastoral responsibility to the child but there has to be a limit.

  2. CGP

    The common sense option is surely to distribute the holidays more effectively – imagine October half term lasting for two weeks? Teachers would work and properly rest during this break (I reckon that currently most work at least 2 days of the October ‘break’ ) students would be refreshed.

  3. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove I might only be the only person to agree, but having worked a 5 term year with a shorter summer – I’m in favour!

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I understand the sentiment of this but govt cuts continue to come because we “make do” when actually we can’t really cope

  5. Sarah7726

    SchoolsImprove in favour of a reduced summer if it meant we got extra on October. Autumn term is a very long term with only a week off.

  6. robina

    There are more people than ever crowded into this little island and for six weeks in the summer it’s hell on earth for anyone who lives in a holiday town – and for the people who are visiting.  Spread the holidays about and the queues on the roads will lessen and the beaches will be less crowded and more pleasant.

Let us know what you think...