In the news yesterday, the government announced plans to give Head teachers and schools the power to decide the term dates for the school year in 2015, as opposed to the councils that decide it at the moment. This power is already held by schools with academy status. It could mean that more state schools switch from the long, six-week summer holidays. Schools can already vary the shape of the school day, but they will also be able to change the length of their terms. Head teachers warned that parents with children in different schools would still expect local schools to agree common dates so that families could plan holidays together.
Labour’s education spokesman Stephen Twigg announced last month that a future Labour government would extend these academy flexibilities to all state schools. This means that both the coalition government and opposition are pushing for greater powers to be devolved to individual schools.
Well today, in their infinite attempts to be disruptive, the NUT has spoken out once again. Christine Blower, head of the NUT, said it would not mean saving money for families.
“Holiday companies will almost certainly just expand the period over which they charge premium rates so there will be no benefit to families, or indeed the general public who will have fewer weeks of less expensive holidays,” she said.
I’m sorry Mrs Blower, but quite frankly if all you’re worried about is whether families can plan holidays out of school time as a reason to complain about this, you are nitpicking. Not every family in the UK can even afford to go on holiday once per year (my family are one of these), so that is not the first thought on every families’ minds. The other thing to think about here, which the NUT has completely missed, is that it could mean that if you have 2 children, 1 child may be going to school whilst the other is not, potentially causing issues for the parents who may work. That, Mrs Blower, is a reason to question the justification of these proposals, not whether families can plan a holiday or not.
The Head Teachers also make an interesting point here. Just because these schools may have that new power, schools that work in partnership with other schools in their local area, which does seem to be becoming rather popular at the moment, may decide to set the term dates to be exactly the same as each other, which means that there could be no change whatsoever to the situation we have now.
The final thing the NUT need to get into their heads is that this is another proposal for after the General Election in 2015, so it is not being rushed in by Mr Gove and the DfE like the new curriculum for Primary Schools which is due to come in 2014, with some parts coming in this autumn. If Labour win the election, these proposals may indeed be scrapped, as might the new GCSE proposals that are due to come in September 2015.