Mouth of the Wear: Are longer school holidays a good idea?

Southmoor Academy is to give students an additional two weeks off, but with longer school days. Should all schools follow suit?

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 8:43 am

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Pupils at Southmoor Academy could get extra holiday time next year.
Pupils at Southmoor Academy could get extra holiday time next year.

There are three main groups to consider when pondering that question: students, teachers and parents.

Is it worth even asking kids if they should have more days off? I suspect we already have their answer.

I wouldn’t go back to school if you upped my pocket money to half-a-crown. Nor could I ever consider teaching.

The stick with which teachers are regularly thumped is their long holidays and short days. But that’s unfair. They don’t clock off at 3pm and dash home to watch Countdown. Nor do they have free weekends. They work long additional hours marking, making lesson plans and running extra-curricular activities.

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Class time can be stressful too; and these days they can’t restore order by casually hurling a wooden blackboard duster at the head of a miscreant. Then there is Ofsted.

But would an additional two weeks away from the classroom make teachers’ lives any easier? They would still have a curriculum to work through: but in fewer days. They would be expected to accommodate even more extra-curricular activities too.

However, it’s the parents, even those with “just” one child, who are most likely to struggle with another fortnight of school holidays.

Parents, especially in full-time work, often find managing their time like juggling soot. But at least when the kids are at school the stress is relieved for a few hours; especially when there isn’t the network of grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.

How much would another two weeks of school hols help parents: especially when they already find the existing holidays insufferably long? I suspect not a lot.

But the most important consideration is the benefit or otherwise to the kids.

Their mere presence in class does not necesarily equate to learning; especially with their notoriously short attention spans.

The longer the day, the less attention teachers command; coming a poor second to the pigeons outside. Pupils need to cover a certain amount before sitting exams; regardless of how long they are given to learn. Is this the way?

Don’t bite me; it’s only a suggestion. But how about fewer holidays and shorter days?