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Autonomy for Schools to Set Holiday Dates – A Recipe for Chaos? Have Your Say

06/09/2013 | Education, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

Recent news that the UK government is considering letting all state schools decide their own term and holiday dates from September 2015 has parents all over Britain in a spin as they consider the childcare implications involved.  If this comes into play, it will mean that any local authority will no longer be able to set firm dates for holidays for every school within its jurisdiction – individual schools will set their own dates.

This development has led to many parents worrying about the effect on childcare, a subject that is already fraught with problems as busy parents try to juggle work and family life.  Having children in different schools, which have different dates for holidays, half terms, etc could lead to chaos.  Finding suitable childcare for the holidays is already difficult for parents all over the UK.  The Inset Day system can be seen as a taste of what’s to come.  Inset (IN-Service Training) days are a series of five school term days within each school year when staff attend training sessions or deal with administrative tasks.  With individual schools already setting their own Inset Days, families with kids in different schools have for years found it difficult to arrange childcare.  

If individual schools are allowed to set their own term dates it’s likely to lead to even more difficulties, especially for parents on a lower income who probably already struggle to make ends meet and pay for good quality childcare.  We’re also looking at a scenario where schools may be able to choose to divide the school year into six short terms separated by two week holiday breaks.  With most parents in the UK already geared to the traditional UK school year, this option could well cause chaos for the families involved.

Those who have a regular childcare provider will probably find it easier to deal with the proposed changes than parents who use flexi-time to arrange their work life to fit in with the kids’ education.  Finding a flexible childcare option really can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Registered childminders are usually full to capacity while relying on grandparents has become less of an option as so many grandmothers are working full time nowadays.

Teachers’ Union, NUT are also voicing concern over these plans to allow schools autonomy over term times, with head teacher’s leader Brian Lightman warning that

The problem will come if no one is responsible for creating a co-ordinate calendar for a year and it turns into a free for all”.

We’d like to know what you as parents think of these plans for schools to set their own term dates.  How do you think it will affect your family?  How will it impact on your childcare arrangements?  Are you for this or against it?  Do you have any plans to formulate an action group in your area to deal with this?  Please let us know in the comments below – have your say here on an issue that will affect you in the future.

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