Havoc warning for schools

A TEACHING union today hit out at the proposed six-term year – and warned it could cause "major havoc" in Suffolk schools.The big shake-up is expected in two years' time, with children starting the new school year in late August 2004, and getting a new two-week holiday in October.

By Judy Rimmer

A TEACHING union today hit out at the proposed six-term year – and warned it could cause "major havoc" in Suffolk schools.

The big shake-up is expected in two years' time, with children starting the new school year in late August 2004, and getting a new two-week holiday in October.

An independent think-tank came up with the idea to change the school calendar, and Suffolk County Council's education department is launching a consultation on the local government association proposals.


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However, today Ipswich National Union of Teachers spokesman Roger Mackay warned many parents, teachers and pupils were still unaware of the proposed changes – which will mean a shorter summer holiday.

"Feelings among teachers are very strong against these changes," he said. "When we discussed the six-term year at an NUT meeting in Ipswich, not one single teacher voted in favour.

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"The workload for teachers is pretty massive already and we just see this as adding to it. I'm working as a supply teacher at the moment and, at all the schools I've been into, the staff and parents I've talked to are opposed to these changes."

Mr Mackay said exam dates would have to be moved and programmes of work redesigned if the changes went ahead.

"When all is said and done, such upheaval in the school calendar will do absolutely nothing to address the key issue of the moment – the many thousands of teacher vacancies across the country."

Mr Mackay warned that, during the changeover, teenagers might still be waiting for their GCSE results when they had to return to school in late August, causing "major havoc".

He called for schools to keep the current pattern of terms and holidays, and warned the changes could cause "future mayhem." He urged parents to oppose the idea by writing to the education authority or their local MP.

Moira Jackson, Suffolk's education communications manager, stressed that nothing had yet been decided on changing term dates. "We are just starting a wide-ranging consultation," she said.

She said a national consultation had already been carried out and now the Suffolk LEA was set to gauge the view in its own area, working closely with other neighbouring authorities. Any changes to exam dates would be decided nationally.

"The aim is to give some predictability to the school year, because term dates can fluctuate a lot at the moment."

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