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You're downplaying the holiday issue. Children need some certainty. Children and teachers having random 25 day periods off each year just isn't going to iron out.

As you say, free up the schools and let them decide!

David Belchamber

What do you mean by the "business year"? I cannot see that you defined it.
Also, the main exam period is dictated by the start of the academic year in the universities.
I don't think that random hoildays would work in pratice but I do think that four terms (or possibly six) would be an improvement.


When I saw the headline I thought this was going to be a completely different proposal. For many the business year ends on 31 March or 5 April and therefore I thought it was a proposal to run the school year from April to March, with all public exams in March. This would also have the advantage of all Uni places being offered for the following Sept/Oct based on actual results. It would also make the summer term much more relaxed as the best time of year for extracurricular school activity. There may be something to be said for a slighly shorter summer break and a formal fourth term with a 2 to 3 week break in October.

But instead this sad proposal. Children need a complete break in the summer from school - in fact, I would rather move adults to nearer their programme than the other way around. Having children and teachers come and go on their holidays in term time would make covering a syllabus very difficult, to say nothing of disrupting other activities such as sports matches, school concerts and plays etc. Also with children at different schools and/or with different interests, how would you balance the need not to go away in the school cricket season with the need not to be away when the Christmas play is rehearsing? It would also make the division between day and boarding school even more stark as the latter would have to continue with the present term/holidays division.

This is an anti-child proposal, proposed for the convenience of teachers and parents. Any parent who finds the extra cost of taking holidays away from home in the school holidays to be a major component in the overall cost of bringing up children has got their priorities wrong. The drudgery of a 52 week working year can wait for adulthood thank you.


This is exactly the sort of choice we should leave down to the schools themselves. For some of the reasons given above by Londoner, I would be surprised if this particular model were to be adopted. I would be even more surprised if parents prioritised the organisation of the school year over what and how their childern were taught. But that is the point of them being free - I might be wrong.


You haven't yet closed down (recorded as rejected) the "close dividend loophole" idiotic proposal of quite a long time ago. Maybe your machine broke because the vote against was such a high percentage.

Matt Davis

I'm sorry but I think that this is a half cocked proposal that ignores all kinds of important realities. A big No to this one I'm afraid.


Sorry, I rather liked having my nice long 6 week summer holiday. As a child I never found the school year objectionable and my parents had no problem with it either.

Peter Hatchet

Russell, I appreciate your contribution, but I'm afraid I disagree with you on this.

You mention a couple of times that teachers need to cram "a full years learning into 40 weeks". I don't understand this? The syllabus reflects the term time that is available to teachers. It is designed to fit into 40 weeks. Its default length is not "52" weeks, because the school year is not 52 weeks. The problems of cramming, overwork and stress you identify are much more to do with ever increasing bureaucracy and chronic indiscipline. A few decades ago, teaching used to be a great pleasure for many semi-retired ex-military men and civil servants.

It is also worth noting that most private schools manage to fit the same amount of teaching (if not more) into a school year than state schools and with much more holiday (typically 17 weeks, versus 13 for the state sector). I think teachers would be far more stressed at the prospect of dealing with indisciplined classes and bureaucracy for an extra 2 months a year, especially with the prospect of much less holiday, than they would feel relieved by "spreading out" their work.

Let us also remember that kids really *need* free-time and holidays when they are growing up. Childhood is also a voyage of personal discovery, as well as formalised learning, and exploring yourself independently is an important part of this. Many interests, hobbies and sports can be developed over the school holidays which would not be possible with much shorter breaks(under your system these would be heavily orientated towards the holidays the parents wished to take and not with their peers). Children are not fully-matured adults - we need to allow them to chance to play.

The fact that some kids use this time destructively in urban areas is not an argument to deny all children the benefits of school holidays any more than it is an argument for social services to monitor all parents due to the total deficiencies of some bad ones. Rather it is yet another example of family/community breakdown and a lack of social responsibility. The solution here lies with a major shift in attitudes to personal and social responsibility.

The one area where I do agree with you, is your suggestion of schools being allowed to independently "trial" such a system free of Whitehall. I have no objection to this. Schools should have such freedoms and the parents the right to choose.

But I do think that to tinker with the school year centrally in an attempt to remedy social problems and make the school year more convenient for working adults is the wrong solution, and not a sensible way forward.

Peter Coe

Well, there are *some* good ideas here, but as most of the other comments here note, a lot more bad ones.

Like Londoner, to me ending the school year in March has a lot of merits; though presumably it's more than just a coincidence that university years match school years, so it's unlikely that if school years were moved back in due course university years wouldn't do the same - which doesn't help the "actual rather than assumed results" argument.

There's also a case for making Summer holidays shorter; six to seven weeks is too long.

Russell doesn't explain how he'll compensate teachers for the loss of holidays - arguably the main perk of this job - presumably he's either saying "work longer for the same" or "pay teachers a higher salary for their loss of time off"?

Let's also get a "luvvie" objection out of the way - and one I'm not normally that sympathetic too, except when no recognition at all is accorded to it: that school isn't *just* about equipping pupils with business skills - it's about instilling values, helping children become decent, responsible adults, increasingly about making sure children enter the world physically, as well as educationally, competent and also about having fun too.

Russell seems to appreciate none of this - his rather bleak view of the world seems to be that of The Matrix: a battery-farm world where kids get plugged in from birth and get unplugged aged 65+ solely to maximise the economic benefit of this human resource. No thanks, Russell.

Finally, we have a world of experience to draw from if we really want to continue our engineering of the education system - not a single country that leads in this field has anything approaching the system Russell suggests; so the question is - has he unearthed an idea no-one has ever dreamt up before, or has it been rejected as unworkable? Methinks the latter.

Mark Wadsworth

This seems completely off-piste, but one good idea is to scrap national Bank Holidays and for each local authority to choose ten extra days on which schools are closed. That way there wouldn't automatically be traffic jams on those days where everybody migrates to the seaside.

Other school holidays half terms and so on should be staggered across the country to achieve much the same effect.


Does that include scrapping Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Easter, Mark?

Mark Wadsworth

Not those four of course.

Even if they were scrapped as official Bank Holidays, schools and offices and banks would be shut on those days anyway. They are sort of traditional/Christian holidays, unlike Bank Holidays that are dates chosen pretty much at random.

Mark Wadsworth

Plus very few people go to the seaside on Xmas, Boxing Day or New Year, so the problem does not arise.

Angelo Basu

This is entirely unworkable unless you see teachers as no more than interchangeable child-minders and the children's role at school to be no more than merely attending. Perhaps in a dystopian future where the kids sit in cubicle farms doing online educational modules at their own pace whilst being monitored by roving teachers through CCTV this would be a possibility.

It would make sense to have the terms distributed less lumpily through the year; I know that I forgot a lot of things in the long holidays and particularly in subjects where practice is important, such as languages and maths I suspect that standards could be improved by shortening holidays.

Deputy Editor

Hi Londoner, unfortunately we don't have sophisticated machines to do these things automatically and hadn't got around to finishing that vote yet. I've now closed it and added the Rejected logo.


Thanks, Deputy Editor at 4.07pm. I must have been assuming that you were a sophisticated machine - obviously you are the former but seem to be denying that you are the latter...

Peter Coe says "it's unlikely that if school years were moved back in due course university years wouldn't do the same - which doesn't help the "actual rather than assumed results" argument". I think the Universities would see the advantages of using actual results and not do this (the Govt could tell them not to anyway - I can be Statist when I want to be!). My scheme would also enable a three month community service type publicly funded "gap" (for all school leavers not just those going onto Uni) - a sort of national service lite from mid April to mid July, which would have much to commend it. If the public schools had spare places in the summer because their 6th formers had left, you could even use their boarding facilities for some of it, but with a social mix - good for both sides.

Pity this isn't what the 100 policies proposal is though.



Sam Tarran

Looking at all your arguments, I have come to the conclusion that you possess a mentality similar to that of Benito Mussolini. Either that, or you were born at the age of 18 and therefore did not have a childhood, not experiencing the joys of looking forward to and enjoying half-terms, two week holidays at Christmas and Easter, and the big summer break.

Your argument about kids engaging in "unstructured (and often destructive) activities. This increases social problems such as obesity, anti-social behaviour and outright criminality."

Right, so you're implying that if we're not mugging old ladies and burning things we're eating our weight in crisps! As someone said above, this is not a real argument. If you're that concerned about it, why not propose to stick GPS tracking chips into our arms or, better yet, give us ID Cards!


This is bizarre. We have a solution to the undesriability of the long summer break - a 4 term year like they have in places like Leicestershire.

However, I see no argument being put forward for why we need to extend the the school year to 50 weeks (I'll be nice and assume a week off at Christmas and Easter each).

The main objection though is that although the proposal acknowledges that there is more to teaching than simply being in the classroom it says precisely nothing about what is to happen to these functions. When is the marking to be done? The school statistics? The lesson plans? The inter-agency meetings about at risk children? And if teachers are still going to be doing all this, and still teaching 40 weeks of the year, and now teaching another 5 weeks of the year, and maybe having to somehow cover their absent colleagues on holiday as well, what makes you think you can get away with not raising their pay?


These ideas are like living in a Thomas More type Utopia. They are unworkable and unwanted by either teachers or parents. The academic year is fine the way it is. There is no need to change it. We should concentrate on trying to recruit the best possible teachers for our children and provide them with the best facilities. Let's get the basics right first before we start dismantling a system that has served us and most of the Western world very well for a great number of years! Teaching children is not a business.


I'm glad to relate to a thinking individual, although I am not agreeing to all your ideas. As a techer for more than 20 years, I see some problems. Summer vacations are really not the issue. You are correct that kids and teachers need breaks, but in this 21stC the biggest problem is forcing kids to learn in a 1900s style.
AMericans look at working harder and more--if we were efficient, than we should be working easier and less. It's not the hours we teach/learn, but the HOW we do it. Testing, memorizing, labeling....are 20thC methods. Our kids are bored. We need to move on to higher level thinking--synthesis, problem solving, collaborating, inventing...If a machine can do the basic stuff--use it and move on!
Do we need more time in school--no, we need more time with our families. Kids are becoming too detached and according to "The World is Flat" the interpersonal skills, the human traits, will be more important than ever to survive!

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