Headlines: June 3rd, 2003

The Independent Commission on the Organisation of the School Year has recommended that the current three term year should be restructured into six blocks of teaching time. It believes that the four blocks after Christmas should be even in length regardless of the official Easter period. The new Standard School Year would maintain current arrangements across the country with two holidays of two weeks at Christmas and Easter, a long summer break and three holidays of at least one week in October, February and May or June. Because pupil and teacher absences are highest in October and November the Commission has recommended a slightly longer holiday in this period to tackle the problem.The Commission recommends that the current responsibilities of LEAs, foundation schools and voluntary aided schools for setting the school year should continue, but that there should be as much standardisation as possible, leaving issues of detail to individual schools.

Chris Price, Chairman of the Commission said: “I am confident that if the pattern is followed, we can see standards in the education of schoolchildren increase, and the stress levels of teachers reduce. It may also go some way towards preventing parent-condoned absence during school time.”

The Commission, which was appointed by the Local Government Association, has carried out extensive consultations and found a broad consensus over several issues. Representatives from across the education spectrum will meet in the summer to discuss draft holiday dates for the school year 2005-6 and beyond. The LGA will present a recommendation to schools for the school year 2005-6 in December 2003.