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Monday, 3 January, 2000, 11:50 GMT
Inquiry to consider five-term year

classroom Would shorter terms improve pupils' learning?

The benefits of adopting a five-term school year are to be considered by an inquiry which will open later this month.

A commission set up by the Local Government Association (LGA) is to examine the idea, which would see the end of the traditional six-week school summer holiday.

Supporters of switching from a three-term to a five-term school year say that a larger number of shorter, more evenly spaced holidays would be better for both teachers and pupils, as children would have a greater chance of remembering what they learn from one term to the next.

But teaching unions are against the idea, and although a number of local education authorities have considered changing to the five-term year, none have actually done so yet.

One school - Woodlands Primary in Grimsby, north-east Lincolnshire - is pioneering the new system, which consists of five eight-week terms with four two-week breaks, and a four-week summer holiday.

The school introduced the five-term year in September. North East Lincolnshire Education Authority may apply the new system to the 82 schools in the region in September 2001 if it turns out to be successful on both an academic and practical level.

Potential impact

East Sussex education authority came close to adopting the system, proposing to make the change in all its schools from this September.

But the proposal was dropped after public consultation showed that 73% of the 23,000 people questioned were opposed to it.

The LGA commission will look at the potential impact of a five-term year on teacher stress, children's learning, and the transition from school to university.

The eight-strong commission will be led by Christopher Price, a former Labour MP and chair of the House of Commons education select committee, who is also former principal of Leeds Metropolitan University.

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See also:
10 Sep 99 |  Education
Primary school begins five-term year
14 Jul 99 |  Education
Primary school adopts five-term year
23 Jul 99 |  Correspondents
Five-term year might still be on
18 Jun 99 |  Education
Decision day for schools' summer holiday
08 Apr 99 |  unions99
Teachers reject five-term year

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