Drastic plan to overhaul school hols

MUMS and dads need to give careful thought to Nottingham City Council’s controversial plans for a five-term school year, claims the Bulwell-based leader of a teaching union.

The council has announced that it intends to push ahead with the proposal, which is to switch to five terms from the current three terms. The summer holidays would be cut to four weeks and there would be four other breaks, all of two weeks, in the year.

But Ralph Surman, a national executive member of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), who is deputy head teacher at Cantrell Primary School, said: “All parents need to be aware that they would have their children off school during times of the year when the weather does not tend to be good enough for them to be outside.

“Admittedly, you cannot guarantee favourable weather in July or August for the traditional school summer holidays. But there is a better chance of it happening at that time than in most of the weeks during the revised school year which is proposed.”

Mr Surman said one argument put forward in favour of the change was that families would be able to book cheaper holidays. “But this is a complete myth because travel firms would cotton on to what was happening and put their prices up during the new school breaks,” he claimed. “I also think the proposed terms would be too long for young children.

“The ATL has gone to great lengths to make sure we are representing as many of our members’ views as possible. I have not had anyone get in touch with me who thinks a five-term year is a fantastic idea.”

A 12-week consultation by the council on the plans revealed that out of the 4,872 people who responded, 50.9% were in favour of the changes. But out of the 1,437 school staff questioned, only 25% supported the initiative. A total of 70,000 consultation documents were distributed.

The seven teaching unions in Nottingham have now joined together to submit a formal ‘complaint’ to the council in a bid to make it re-think the decision. “There’s incredibly strong feeling about the move to a five-term year,” said John Illingworth, of the National Union of Teachers (NUT). “Standards would be hit if we lost teachers unwilling to work for a city treating them like this.”

The unions have together drawn up a petition which has already been signed by 150 people.

A city council spokesman said he could not comment on the unions’ complaint until it had received official notification.