Five-term school year considered by heads
SCHOOL holidays could face another shake-up in Kent if head teachers back changes that include the option of schools moving to a fiveterm year.
A working party of primary and secondary head teachers from Kent’s schools says more radical reform could improve attendance, boost standards,, reduce stress on staff and pupils and make better use of “unproductive time” after exams.
The review follows concerns among heads that the introduction in Kent of what is known as the six-term year has failed to benefit schools.
That was introduced in 2005 and was supposed to help even out the length of school terms. It also fixed the Easter break.
But despite the reorganisation, there have continued to be terms ranging from five to eight weeks.
As a result, the working party says Kent should take a fresh look at the idea of a five-term year and consider introducing a two-week break in the middle of the autumn term.
That could have the effect of shortening the summer holiday by about a week, something teaching unions have previously resisted.
Gill Metcalf, head teacher of Upton Junior School in Broadstairs and chairman of the Kent Primary Schools Forum, said: “There has been some concern that when we went to the six-term model, there was not a great deal of change so we have looked at all the options. Many heads have said their staff would like two weeks in October, which is a long term and one where there can be more absence due to illness.”
For primary schools, the first term after Christmas often proved too short, especially as it was the term when the 11-plus is taken.
Alan Barham, head teacher of Sittingbourne Community College and a member of the working group, said secondary schools could benefit by starting a school year immediately after the GCSE exams in June.
“Instead of dead time or time that is not always used productively, new GCSE courses could start straight away [in June].”
The results of consultation with heads is expected to be considered next month.