School holidays in Mansfield and Ashfield could be set to change

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NOTTINGHAMSHIRE residents are being asked for their views on possible changes to the structure of school terms and holidays.

A 12-week consultation has been launched by Nottinghamshire County Council on two options for the future of school holidays in its schools.

The first option is for the existing pattern of school holidays to stay the same, while the second option is whether the county should change to a fixed break of two weeks at the end of the spring term - making the spring and summer terms more similar in length.

Traditionally, the length of spring and summer terms has been dictated by where Easter falls, so if it is very early, for example, the summer term can end up being much longer.

If arrangements were kept as they are for the 2013/14 school year, there would be a 13-week spring term and an 11-week summer term, whilst with a fixed spring break, the spring and summer terms would both be 12 weeks long.

County Council cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Coun Philip Owen, said: “We will be asking schools to get in touch with parents to let them know how they can complete the survey and find out more about the consultation.

“But we’re 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.”

The two options up for debate result from the findings of initial consultations on changing school term patterns with school representatives, governing bodies, trade unions, parents groups and other interested parties.

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.

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

A five-term year would see equal term blocks of eight weeks each with the summer holiday only four weeks long.

The consultation will close on 15th April 2012.

Responses will be used to make the final decision on which model will be adopted for the three academic years between 2013 and 2016 by the County Council’s Cabinet in June.

Copies of the survey will be available from libraries and children’s centres or at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/schooltermconsultation from 23rd January 2012 or you can respond with your views to schooltermconsultation@nottscc.gov.uk.