All change for Suffolk's school terms?

CHANGES to the school year could pave the way to a four-week summer holiday.A new six-term system that drops Easter holidays and shortens summer is set to be debated by councillors next week.

CHANGES to the school year could pave the way to a four-week summer holiday.

A new six-term system that drops Easter holidays and shortens summer is set to be debated by councillors next week.

But Claydon High headteacher Beth Soule is unconvinced by the new proposals and fears axing the long summer break could leave staff and pupils under greater pressure than ever.

She said: "We are all in favour of fixing the spring term rather than having it fixed to Easter.


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"But going to a four-week summer holiday means the staff and the youngsters will not have time to recoup."

Council education chiefs see the moveable Easter feast as a stumbling block for improving stability in the system.

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And while a proposed two-week break at the start of April will often include Easter Sunday, some years will see the feast fall in term-time.

Other changes could see a longer October break replacing half-term and a slightly shorter summer holiday, which might mean school starting in the last week of August.

But Mrs Soule said she feared the small changes were just the thin end of the wedge.

She said: "At the moment I only effectively have three weeks holiday in the summer because I have to be here for exam results.

"All the countries we compare ourselves with unfavourably have three-month breaks, so I remain to be convinced about the new system.

"It will put us under huge pressure and there's enough pressure in the system already."

Stability and predictability are the main aims of the new proposal, according to papers to be discussed by Suffolk County Council's Executive Committee next week.

If the plan is approved, the new system could begin with the start of the new school year in August/September 2004.

Parents will notice little change at first. Proposed school dates for the 2004/2005 year are only a few days different from the year before.

But education chiefs are keen to bring in the new system which they believe will create flexibility for the future – especially if A-level exams are moved to allow students to apply for university with results already known.

And it seems almost certain changes will be given the green light as councillors approved the proposals in principle in June after lengthy public consultation.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk's education department said: "The Suffolk consultation on this issue earlier in the year showed support for the principles of changing to a six term year, but expressed specific concerns which were passed on to the national Independent Commission.

"The Independent Commission has just published suggested term dates for 2004-5, which in their view take account of some of these views expressed by Suffolk and other LEAs.

"We want to see whether schools and staff associations agree with these dates, and so we are asking councillors on the Executive Committee to use the Commission's dates for the basis of our consultation."

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