Five-term school year con­sid­ered by heads

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION - by Paul Francis

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.

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