Barnsley Council abandons shorter summer holidays as protests mount

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BARNSLEY COUNCIL has announced that it is not going to reduce the length of the summer holidays next year following controversy surrounding the plans.

The decision was announced this morning in a statement on the authority’s website.

It has previously said it was cutting the length of the summer holidays and adding a week to the October half-term to prevent “learning loss” among pupils after the long break.

The plan was opposed by teaching unions and some head teachers who warned it would cause disruption for staff and parents.

Now a statement from the council says the change will not be going ahead next year. A wider consultation is going to take place for the 2018 year.

Coun Tim Cheetham, the cabinet spokesman for people, said: “In response to concerns we have had about the consultation process and the change of position by some of our consulted partners, we now propose to our Cabinet that the school holiday arrangements for 2017/18 do not change, thereby leaving the longer summer holiday in place.

“We feel we’re unable to rely solely on the Schools Consultative Committee process as a basis for deciding school holidays. We’ll undertake a wider consultation during the school year 16/17 on proposals for any future changes from 2018 onwards. The arrangements for the consultation will be set out and published at the start of the new school year.”

Ian Stevenson, the National Union of Teachers’ regional secretary said; “We very much welcome the decision of Barnsley Council to retain the existing school holiday arrangements rather than implement changes which would involve a shorter summer break.”

“We look forward to engaging with consultation process set out by the Council to take place in the forthcoming year, which will consider any future changes. ” The NUT had planned to stage a public meeting next week about the proposals.

They had warned that children need time to “re-charge batteries, play and spend time with their families.”

Before the proposals were scrapped Roy Bowser the NUT Barnsley division secretary had said: “These changes will not apply to all schools, as academy schools in Barnsley will be able to retain the existing arrangements.

“The effect of this will be to cause chaos for parents, especially those who have children at different schools having different holidays at different times.”

“The NUT is responding to the concerns of teachers and parents by calling a public meeting to take place on Tuesday next week “

“To date the council have not published the research or provided any evidence that shortening the school holidays is in the interests of pupils or their education.

“School holidays are an important part of childhood and play an important part in learning. Every child deserves to remember their summers for the fun they bring. Children need time to re-charge their batteries, play and spend time with their families.”

“Schools in Britain have shorter summer holidays than many other countries.

“The summer breaks is eight weeks long in Belgium, France and Norway; nine weeks in Canada; ten weeks in Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Poland and Sweden; 11 weeks in Iceland and 12 weeks in the USA.”

He said the summer break in Finland is four weeks longer than that in England, yet the country’s education system was considered to be among the best in the world.

“Private schools in the UK have longer summer holidays yet, there is no suggestion that this is disadvantageous for their pupils”, he added.