Headlines: February 26th, 2008

New figures from the Local Government Association show that two thirds of schools in England have adopted its standard school year. The LGA has estimated that that up to nine million families could save more than five hundred pounds a year in childcare costs if all schools followed the same pattern.

The LGA has campaigned for a standardised year, as it believes the move would raise attainment levels and cut truancy as well as making it easier for families to plan the time they spend with their children. Now a comprehensive survey of 125 councils has shown that 63 per cent of them follow all or part of the standard school year recommendations, which were introduced by
the Association in 2003. The system divides the
common-three term model into six terms of more even length.

Local government leaders claim such a system reduces the need for parents to take their children out of school during term times, cuts stress among pupils and teachers and even improves exam results.

Les Lawrence, who chairs the LGA Children and Young
People Board, said, “Juggling term dates can pose a
real headache for families especially when they have
children at different schools. Not only will this
school year system reduce the chances of parents
facing fines for taking their kids out during term
time, but exam results can improve and the cost of
childcare can fall.”

Councillor Lawrence said fixed term dates were more in
line with the realities of modern family life and he
added, “Standardising the school year could bring an
end to the cost and confusion generated by schools
across the country pursuing a variety of term dates.
However the setting of school timetables should remain
a matter of local determination. Through mutual
agreement councils need to work together with each
other and with those who represent all school staff to
agree what’s best for local people.”