max temp: 12°C

min temp: 7°C


East Anglia: Owner of Colchester Zoo teams up with man behind Africa Alive and Banham Zoo to fight proposals to shorten school summer holidays

15:43 19 August 2014

Dominic Tropeano in front of Colchester Zoo

Dominic Tropeano in front of Colchester Zoo's white Tiger enclosure

East Anglian tourism bosses have warned of the “economic harm” a new law to allow schools to axe the long summer holiday could have on attractions in Suffolk.


Martin Dupée, director of Zoological Society of East Anglia, which is behind Africa Alive in Kessingland and Banham Zoo, has put his name to a letter calling for a proper assessment of the “ill-conceived” legislation.

Former education secretary Michael Gove claimed while in the post that the education system was being “handicapped” by a 19th-Century timetable and pupil performance dipped when they were off in July and August, leaving them at a disadvantage to students in other countries.

The Deregulation Bill, which has been voted through the House of Commons and will be examined by the House of Lords when they return after the summer break, would give all schools across England the freedom to dictate the shape of their academic year.

In a letter to a national Sunday newspaper, 24 bosses, which also included Dominique Tropeano, zoo director at Colchester Zoo, said: “The tourism industry relies on the summer months, and particularly the six-week school summer holiday period, for its success.

“The seasonal nature of many attractions, especially those outdoors, means that they close during periods of the year when it is uneconomical to open, then spend months treading water, trying to turn a profit.

“The Deregulation Bill, which is in its final stages in the House of Lords, contains clauses that permit school summer holidays to be shortened from six weeks to four. Michael Gove stated on numerous occasions that shortening the summer holiday period was his intention and those close to him admitted that this was being looked at.”

They added: “Many in the tourism industry survived the recession by the skin of their teeth. The economic harm provided for within the Bill is deeply worrying.

“We call on the Government to engage with the tourism industry, consult, and properly assess the impact of this ill-conceived legislation.”

Earlier this summer Waveney MP Peter Aldous wrote to the new education secretary Nicky Morgan reiterating his concerns about Government proposals to shorten summer holidays. It follows a speech he made during the third reading of the bill, when it was going through the House of Commons.

In a letter to the minister, he said: “There is a concern that this measure could have a significant adverse impact on the tourism industry, in particular on family seaside attractions”, adding that it should be recognised that “these businesses are important local employers, often clustered in coastal locations, where invariably the local economy faces greater challenges”.

He also said that allowing individual schools to set their own term time could mean different schools would have different holiday dates, causing difficulties for parents with children at different schools.

“Whilst I understand the reasoning behind the school holiday proposals in terms of achieving higher student attainment and giving greater autonomy to schools, it is vital that its impact on areas like Waveney that rely on tourism for its economic well-being are fully taken into account,” he added.

Mr Dupée said that he did 40% of his business in July and August.



  • Six weeks is already a ridiculously short period for the school summer holidays. Most countries have breaks of 8, 10 or 12 weeks, with only short breaks at Xmas and Easter. We should be moving in that direction.

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • The tourist industry are more likely worried that they won't know when to charge peak prices!

    Report this comment

    Jack Hedley

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • If this Country does not get its act together we wont have a tourism industry. With so many people working on zero hours contracts, minimum wage rates, and lack of support for small businesses there is are serious issues stacking up. The ongoing reductions in disposable income are starting to have an effect particularly on the smaller businesses within the tourism sector..

    Report this comment

    Grey Fox

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • good comment , speaks for everyone.

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Are they serious? They want the educational timetable of our children to be tailored to suit the needs of the tourism industry?... I have another idea altogether: why don't those tourist attractions make an effort to organise themselves around the timetable to suit the needs of their customers, if they want them to keep coming!

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

The church is launching its fight back against gangs targeting places of worship for lead. St Mary's Church, Combs Road, Combs. Left to right is Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton and Ipswich Bishop Martin Seeley.

The public have been asked to help the church and the police combat thieves targeting medieval churches across the country.

Aqua 8, Lion Street, Ipswich

An Ipswich chef-entrepreneur has achieved his dream of opening up his own restaurant in London’s Chinatown.

Stock image. Photo: PA

Suffolk police have strongly denied officers have used a Taser against a 91-year-old man after being accused of doing so by a BBC investigation.

Theatre Square artists impression

Construction work to tidy up the former Civic Centre site in the heart of Ipswich – and to create a new public square in front of the New Wolsey Theatre.

Residents have been campaigning for a by-pass for the four villages for decades.

Suffolk County Council is to contribute £450,000 towards building a case for the construction of a new by-pass around four villages on the A12 in the north of the county.

Matt Gaw strikes up a conversation with commuters in London

I’m standing in a queue at a large supermarket. A woman in front of me has long since packed her shopping into carrier bags, writes Matt Gaw.

More than 30 vehicles were stopped as part of the operation

More than 30 drivers of lorries, light goods vehicles and coaches were stopped by police last week in an initiative aimed to target and disrupt criminal activity.

Robin Byford who is considering High Court action against Suffolk Coastal District Council and the planning inspectorate over planning permission to turn his garage into a house.

A Kesgrave father is considering taking the district council and planning inspectorate to the High Court after a three year planning rollercoaster to convert a garage to a starter home for his daughter.

The Kent Lodge Nursing Home.

Kent Lodge was rated inadequate by the CQC this year – one of five homes in the county to be given the rating this year

Robert Morton

MPs have warned the region’s new ambulance chief they will keep a laser like focus on the turnaround of the service when they came face-to-face in parliament.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages