Nottinghamshire County Council want your views on school holiday proposals

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People across Nottinghamshire still have more than two weeks left to give the County Council their views on whether they want to a fixed break at the end of the spring term for schools across the county.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s consultation on two options for the future of school holidays for maintained schools across the county ends on 15th April.

The first option is whether the existing pattern of school holidays should stay the same. The alternative option is whether a fixed break of two weeks at the end of the spring term - making the spring and summer terms more similar in length - would work better.

Traditionally the length of spring and summer terms has been dictated by where Easter falls. So if it’s very early, for example, the knock-on effect is that the summer term can end up being much longer.

County council cabinet member for children and young people’s services, coun Philip Owen, said: “We’re still keen to hear your views and it’s not too late. We’ve had over 3,000 responses to date but we’d welcome more before the mid-April deadline.”

Since the consultation went live in January, schools have been advising parents how they can complete the survey and find out more about the consultation. The council is also keen to get views from a range of people and groups who are directly affected and other residents.

“The idea around a fixed spring break is that this would create more equal term lengths as an alternative to the current situation where the holiday at the end of the spring term is dependent on when Easter falls,” explained councillor Owen.

If parents choose to keep arrangements as they are, for the 2013/14 school year, this would mean that a 13-week spring term and an 11-week summer term. However, if parents opt for a fixed spring break, spring and summer terms for the same year would both be 12 weeks long.

Responses will be analysed after the April deadline and used to inform the final decision on which model will be adopted for the three academic years between 2013 and 2016 which will be made by the County Council’s Cabinet on 20 June.

The two options up for debate result from the findings of initial consultations on changing school term patterns which involved school representatives, governing bodies, trade unions, parents groups and a range of other stakeholders. From these, it was broadly agreed that the preferred options had to meet the needs of all learners, raise attainment and improve attendance; and that all stakeholders should be consulted.

The earlier consultation also agreed that the findings of existing research about maximising the life chances of children and young people should be considered; that teaching and learning blocks should be as equal in length as possible; and that the holiday patterns that Nottinghamshire’s neighbouring local authorities are proposing and adopting should be taken into account.

The early consultations looked at several options including a five-term year, which Nottingham City is adopting from September 2013.

And although earlier consultations across Nottinghamshire showed that there was some support for radical change, this was limited.

Primary schools across the county, which are largely maintained by the county council, were resistant to a five-term year because of the length of the terms.

“In the initial consultations, primary school headteachers were concerned about the impact eight-week terms would have on young children’s ability to sustain learning. They also expressed worries about the likelihood of absenteeism increasing because of fatigue,” added coun Owen.

A five-term year would see equal term blocks of eight weeks each with the summer holiday dropping to four weeks from six.

“The overriding factors are the impact a change would have on students’ learning, educational outcomes and learning experiences of children and young people.

“There’s insufficient evidence and research currently available to support the view that moving to a five-term year or any other radically different model as opposed to the current arrangements would benefit all children in Nottinghamshire.”

Although Nottingham City has decided on a five-term year, it is only one of seven other local authorities adjoining Nottinghamshire and none of the others is currently considering any change.

And nationally, only a small number of local authorities are beginning to explore such radical alternatives to the traditional three-term year.

Copies of the survey will be available from County libraries and the county council’s Children’s Centres.

The survey and more information can also be found by clicking here or you can respond with your views to schooltermconsultation@nottscc.gov.uk