Parents in Wales have voted to cut summer holidays by a week, leaving students in England worried whether their own holidays will be cut.
Welsh ministers are proposing a change to the school calendar so that public holidays are spread more evenly throughout the year.
The Labor-led government has launched a consultation on the proposed changes, which could shorten the summer break to just three weeks.
A survey by the charity Parentkind found that the majority of parents in the country support a more even distribution of holidays throughout the year: 56 percent are in favour.
Although these reforms are currently only being discussed for Wales, a consultation in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, found that 73 percent of parents who responded to a public consultation also want the summer holidays to be shortened because they are “too long”.
But this proposal is met with resistance from some teachers. The NASUWT union says there is “no sustainable educational argument” for the change.
Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said the Welsh Government would press ahead with a consultation
A Parentkind poll found that 59 percent of those on lower incomes support it
The controversial plans to change the school year are one of the Welsh Government’s pledges in its education manifesto.
In a survey published last year, the government proposed three possible options for changing the holiday dates.
- Shortening the fall break and granting students a five-week summer vacation
- Five school periods of seven or eight weeks, with four-week summer holidays (and longer Christmas holidays to compensate)
- Six school periods of six or seven weeks, with school holidays lasting two weeks each, and a three-week summer break
The possible reforms are being discussed because parents struggle to find childcare during breaks and children with additional learning needs find it difficult to return after a long break, the government said.
It argues that the current three-term calendar was designed 150 years ago, in a different era when children were needed to work in agriculture in the summer.
A survey by Parentkind found that 59 per cent of those living on a lower income supported the move in Wales, and these results were confirmed in a Scottish survey of 9,000 parents.
According to a report from the Child Action Poverty Group, families who reported struggling with costs and childcare during the summer holidays were significantly more likely (72%) to support a more consistent school year, including shorter summer holidays.
In comparison, only 29 percent of families were in favor of not facing these challenges.
The report also found that wealthier families, who said they could easily cover the cost of summer vacations and did not need childcare, were more likely to oppose the idea.
One parent said in the report: “[I have a] Child with severe autism in a special school.
“Consider shortening the summer holidays as the availability of respite is so scarce. “Summer causes enormous problems for children who rely on everyday life and the support of schools.”
Overall, 39 percent would like extended holidays at Christmas and in February instead, and 36 percent want the semester break in October to be extended.
Education and Welsh Language Minister Jeremy Miles said the traditional six-week summer holidays would last until at least 2024.
Speaking to the BBC, Faisal Abbasi, whose child goes to school in Cardiff, said: “I think they should leave it like that because everyone is used to the timetables.”
“People are working, they have vacations booked in advance and things like that.”
One parent wrote in a comment online: “I’m looking forward to summer vacation, I love having my kids home.” “Let the kids keep their vacation.”
But not everyone was in favor, with another parent adding: “It’s not about people not wanting to spend time with their children. Some people work full time and can’t have the six weeks off with their kids.”
“I belong to the family where my husband and I are not teachers. That’s why no matter how many vacation days we save, we can’t spend the entire six weeks with our children.”
A decision will be made in the spring and the proposed changes would take effect in the 2025-26 school year.
Overall, the number of school holidays will not change over the course of the year.
Laura Doel from the National Association of Headteachers Cymru told the BBC: “When school staff are being laid off to balance the books, when schools should prioritize providing quality education to learners, and when we are deeply concerned about the recruitment and retention crisis, this should not be a priority for the Government.”