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Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Should there be a six-term school year?

The school calendar in England could be transformed into a six-term year, with shorter holidays and earlier exams.

The Independent Commission's controversial proposals could end the hayfever misery of high summer exams. It could also mean A-level students could apply to university after their exams already knowing their grades.

There are also proposals for summer holidays to be staggered in different regions.

The government says it has no plans to back a change and stressed parents, teachers and school governors would have to agree with the Local Government Association's proposals.

The current school year was devised more than 100 years ago - so shouldn't we keep something that has worked for so long? Or is this the change parents, children and teachers have been waiting for?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Children need the long summer holidays

Hilary Rowland, UK
Children need the long summer holidays. They spend the rest of the year being organised, pressurised and rushing around from one activity to the other. They need some time to get used to a different pace of life and they also need time to get bored - that's when their creativity starts. The long summer holidays give them time to be children.
Hilary Rowland, UK

The needs of those studying for GCSEs and A-Levels are different from those at primary school, for example, so applying the same rule to all may not be appropriate.The current system is not so broken that urgent action is desperately needed, but it should be replaced with one that has been well researched and that takes into account the needs of children, teachers and parents. More work needs to be done.
Paul R, UK

Changes do need to be made, but not quite so drastically. You could get away with shortening the summer holiday to five weeks quite easily. This week can then be added to the half-term holiday before Christmas. This will break up the horrid Autumn term better.
Andy S, England


France has a similar holiday pattern to us but they have a longer school day

John, UK
The concept of applying for university based on real results rather than projected ones is a not a valid reason for changing the timing of A-level exams. UCAS applications have to be made in the Autumn term of the upper 6th prior to even mock A-levels. Also it is possible that hay fever sufferers will be no better off, since there are plants producing pollen from February onwards. France has a similar holiday pattern to us but they have a longer school day, perhaps there's a lesson to be learnt there?
John, UK

Before any new legislation is drawn up, I hope teachers who have school age children will be carefully consulted and listened to. They are able to consider the issues from a variety of different angles, and their contribution to the debate will therefore be extremely valuable. (Incidentally, I am a secondary school teacher without children of my own).
Fran, UK

Why can't teachers be allowed some time to get their head around the many changes in education that have already been implemented by this Government? One of my biggest concerns is that children are already having many of the joys of childhood taken away from them by the pressure of tests, targets, levels etc.
Elaine, UK

Giving pupils "work" style holidays does not help education. It would also take away one of the now sparse perks of teaching - a long holiday.
Duncan Drury, UK


It would be wrong to impose year round schooling, that would be stealing their precious young lives away completely

Andrew Mard, UK
Look at the awful comment at the very bottom of this list from Katy Burke. First parents should bear their repsonsibility as parents and not use the educational system as a convenient place to offload their children. Second, children need a prolonged break away from schools, pressure and homework, a chance during the bright summer months to enjoy the best part of the day during a wonderful time of their lives. It would be wrong to impose year round schooling, that would be stealing their precious young lives away completely.
Andrew Mard, UK

We cannot live in a nutshell. Our holidays should coincide with the ones in other western countries due to common climatic pattern. This way the children can visit friends and cousins outside UK and viceversa to be more in touch with people outside the UK. However to increase the school study days a bit is not a bad idea due to the increasing workload.
Divyesh, Tanzania

Having attended school up to the age of 18, staying on to do A-Levels and in the process of choosing a university, I can say that I am not going to miss school one bit, it has been a long hard time for many years and I needed the holidays I had to take a break from it. Why is someone always moaning about standards in school? The results are ever increasing, what's the problem?
David, UK

We already have a six term system! What we now need is stability, so that educators can plan for the long term. Since starting teaching 13 years ago, something new has been tried every year with little real long term success. We now need to avoid "here today and gone tomorrow" politicians controlling long term educational policy, people who stumble from one political crisis to the next, using quick fixes before their time in office expires.
Steven M., Wales


Reducing holiday time and increasing school work time may not at all improve student performance

Donald Fraser Miles, Canada
I believe, as a Canadian thinking on the subject, that learning requires both "compression" and "decompression" time to be effective. Reducing holiday time and increasing school work time may not at all improve student performance. It is somewhat like the idea that business profits will rise the higher one sets one's price or government revenues will increase the higher one sets government taxes.
Donald Fraser Miles, Canada

I am a 16 year old student and I vehemently support a six term school year. The term between September and Christmas is a stressful one, both for teachers and pupils alike. Students are being subjected to more examinations and long terms place more pressure on them. Taking exams earlier would mean that students receive their results earlier, giving them more time to sort out their university or A-Level courses. The whole idea is very logical and should be implemented as soon as possible.
Yilmaz Mamedy, United Kingdom

Two points. First, the summer holiday is the one time of year when kids are free to be kids and nothing else. No homework, no school, no pressure. That MUST be good for them, why take that away?We all know that the odd week or two here and there comes and goes all too quickly. Second, anyone who has suffered a sixties-built classroom with big windows on a hot day knows that a British comprehensive is no place to be at the height of summer. I recall many an unpleasant hour in a language lab with headphones. I really hope people think a bit further before making these decisions.
Andy, UK


Having a shorter holiday would be immensely cruel

Ray Marsh, Australia
Having attended school in Britain while living abroad, I can tell you that the two-month summer holiday was the only time many of us overseas kids got to go home. Having a shorter holiday would be immensely cruel.
Ray Marsh, Australia


"Stressed parents" who can't cope with their children for 6 weeks should try being a teachers

Louisa, UK

This is just more changes for the sake of it. It's worked so well for so long. My mother is a teacher and I think the only thing that keeps her sane is the thought of the summer holidays. It seems to me that "stressed parents" who can't cope with their children for 6 weeks should try being a teacher and looking after a class full!
Louisa, UK

Having read through all the comments I find that most of them are selfishly put, but that is the human thing to do! Kids will want to keep the six week summer break (although they usually complain within the first week that they are "bored". Teachers will want to keep the summer break because "It's SO stressful teaching all these kids". Parents would most likely want the summer break abolished so that they don't have to "waste" taking time off work to "look after the kids". You can't win. Personally, I think that the summer break should be 3 weeks long max and that the school day should be 9 - 5 as is the rest of the average working day. This would solve everything.
Karen, UK

One of the major advantages of not having school-age children is the ability to travel outside of peak times and save a lot of money. This also has to be the biggest way in which parents are ripped off. If school terms are shuffled I wonder if we'll all suffer, as kids lose their academic edge and travel companies hike the prices to rip us off whenever we travel.
John B, UK

It seems to me that parents and pupils always have something to moan about and even though the present system is not perfect if it were to change it would bring more complaints. The change could result in different areas having different holiday dates and lead to confusion for parents when planing holidays. So while the present system may be antiquated,the devil we know is better than the one we don't.
Dave, Wales

Yep! Just goes to show how many of your contributors are out of touch with the reality of the education system! If teaching was such an easy touch with acres of cash for little work and long holidays, why is there a serious teacher shortage? Rather than waste your energies on the six term year debate (it isn't going to happen...), ask yourself what the salary range should be to attract a graduate to choose teaching as opposed to the other graduate professions (the law, medicine, the city, civil service, etc) Now, that's the real challenge!
David Smale, Cornwall


UK schools have it easy

Tracey Dare, UK

The way I see it is that UK schools have it easy. Privately educated in Rhodesia, we had three terms, much shorter holidays and no time for children to be bored and get up to no good. Homework took 3 - 4 hours every night (from Year 7 onwards) and it certainly did me no harm. It made no difference whether the schools in Rhodesia were private or government, the terms and holidays were exactly the same. There seem to be far too many youths hanging around the streets, bored out of their minds and getting into trouble.
Tracey Dare, UK

I'm a newly qualified teacher from Bournemouth and I don't understand why there is all this talk about changing the traditional school year. To say that children forget what they have learnt at school during the summer holidays is nonsense. Children have managed fine for the last 150 years so what is the problem now? In addition reducing the length of holidays and increasing the length of the school day is just another attempt to shift the onus of looking after children from parents to the school. The breakdown of family life in the UK means that the responsibility of looking after children is being increasingly pushed onto schools and teachers. The government should be looking for ways of promoting family life, not allowing it to be undermined as such proposals surely would.
Jonathan Warner, UK

Shorter holidays would be easier for the working parents who can't take time off for 6 weeks at a time. Teachers are already paid across summer etc and therefore there shouldn't be an increase in teachers' salaries - although greater costs to keeping the school buildings occupiedI think we need to re-evaluate holidays and term times and but essentially keep everyone in mind.
Marie KC, UK

As someone who has just finished my GCSEs I think there's no need to change the current 3 term system. However, I do agree with Wayne Buttery's earlier comment - the Christmas term is too long, I'm exhausted and find myself, my classmates and teachers all physically ill at the end of term. Add a week onto the front end of the Christmas holiday - but apart from that the present system is fine.
Michael Amherst, UK

Whatever happens can only occur with the approval of the teaching profession. Contrary to current opinions they are not childminders and if parents cannot or are not interested in looking after their own children for 6 weeks in the summer why have them in the first place?
Janice Middleton, UK


To rush this will only cause huge disturbances

Benj'min Mossop, Britain

I certainly think that the education system would benefit from some large adjustments in almost all areas to increase efficiency, effectiveness and productivity and this includes the number of terms in a year and the length of holidays. I am a 15 year old attending a comprehensive and think that shorter terms are productive for GCSE students and above but not suitable for students in the lower school or for holidays to visit relatives abroad. Although staggering might ease this problem, it then causes problems for those with relatives in other British regions. I think more consultation needs to be made of the teaching community, parents and also the students to reach a much more efficient system and I don't think the present proposals have passed the prototype stage yet. To rush this will only cause huge disturbances and prove costly and wasteful of both time and money.
Benj'min Mossop, Britain

6 terms? I understood the original ideas centred around 4 terms which makes much more sense. One can only assume the bright spark who came up with that idea has no school age children of their own! As for staggering the holidays in different regions, plain stupid. Families are spread throughout the country, therefore generations of children may grow up never knowing their cousins. My own children see their cousins during the school holidays. Different holidays would mean they are likely to never meet. Is this the way forward if the Government is so insistent on the promotion of families? Has any parent or child out there ever been asked their opinion?
Sue, UK

In all these post no one has noticed that this is a proposal for a six-term year. How is this different to a 3 term year with half-terms or a 6-half-term year. They say a six week summer holiday as current that leaves 7 weeks to spread around the rest of the year, currently 2 for Easter and Xmas and 3 one week half-term holidays. They say up 2 of the half terms to 2 weeks this would mean Xmas and Easter would have to come down to one week - how is this different to the current system. As for the A-level exams, I went through it last year and had no problem, why change something that's been working for nearly 100 years.
David Kitchen, UK

If it aint broke don't fix it.
A.J. Perry, England

We live in a rapidly changing world in which our educational system is evolving. If these proposals are not accepted, it is inevitable that the academic calendar will have to be revised in the not too distant future. A key feature that makes much more sense is the fixing of the so called Easter break, so too is the date for A level results. The system we have now is crazy!
Philip S Hall, UK


Teachers in England get a raw deal

Neil, US

Having studied in England and now working in education in America, I feel that the new proposal is a great scam on children, parents and teachers. Don't the children have enough work to complete during the school year that when they complete the work they are given a six week holiday to become kids again, instead of educational robots. The six weeks is a time when parents - yes parents - become the role models they should become to their own children. Teachers in England get a raw deal. The average teacher works a lot more than the average 9 to 5 person and well the summer break is a time when the teachers gets to catch up on their own personal lives and start the planning of the work that the children need for the next term.
Neil, US

As a teacher and a parent I would welcome a change to the system. Teachers are too tired at the end of long terms to make educational use of the breaks. As a family we find 6 week breaks become very expensive.
Herb, UK

Why do schools and teachers need to have 13 weeks holiday? Most workers in the UK get only 4 or 5 weeks. The closure of schools and the 13 weeks paid holiday of teachers is a disgraceful use of public resources. It is absurd that a school year established 100 years ago is still used. If the school year was of similar length to a work year, working parents would be able to take time off at the same time as their children. Alternatively, schools should remain open in the holidays (from education) to act as day care and sports/recreation centres as the staff are already paid for, and the facilities are otherwise idle. The tax payer is paying for these facilities and teachers, it is about time they are properly used. Perhaps more to the point, I could suggest that children should actually be taught something for 47 weeks rather than 39!
Alan Ward, Canada

I certainly think that the summer holiday is far too long. Children have the right to play and have a proper childhood, but 4 weeks for a summer break would be quite long enough - otherwise they get out of the habit of study; and the years work prior to then is mostly forgotten.
Phil W, UK

I think it would be healthy for children to get away from the institution of school more often and recover a bit between terms!
Dan Peters, UK


I suffered from very bad hayfever when I was at school which I have no doubt affected my performance at exam time

Jo Lord, UK
I think it's a great idea to have exams earlier in the year. I suffered from very bad hayfever when I was at school which I have no doubt affected my performance at exam time. I can even recall falling asleep in one exam due to the side-effects of the anti-histamines. Fortunately it was not an external exam and I was allowed to re-sit it in the autumn.
For my important exams I was given huge steroid injections which are not really good for your health in the long term. I got reasonably good grades - I could have got excellent grades if I hadn't been slowed down by illness and medicines at exam time.
Jo Lord, UK

Perhaps if the school year was longer, the extra work now demanded of children could be fitted in to school time - giving them more time to play when they get home? Also, with fewer holidays, the school year would prove less of a problem when shuffling leave. And let's face it, school holidays interrupt the flow of study anyway (and result in bored kids who end up squabbling with each other).
All you would need to do then is pay teachers more, to cover the extra work they will have to do - although that concept will be about as well received as the idea of children actually playing! That and find children role models who aren't simply uneducated 'bims'. Now that's a challenge worthy of a government who chanted the "education, education, edu..." slogan. Will it happen though? Don't hold your breath. What a sad little country we have created...
Lee, England

Having lived in both the US and UK, and having 3 children, I can see there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems (long summer holidays to short). The bottom line I feel is that older children are better off with a longer summer to possibly work or do volunteer work in their community. Younger children tend to forget and lose academic skills by having too long of a holiday in the summer.
C. Thomas, USA/UK


If you really want to wait until you have A-level results, surely it would make more sense to take as year out, and apply next year

CNS, England
It takes about two months to mark A-levels papers, so results would be coming out in June-July. University terms begin in September-October. So if we are to see students applying to Universities after they have their A-level results, that gives them, and the Universities, about three months to go through the whole process. I don't see how this can be possible.
If you really want to wait until you have A-level results, surely it would make more sense to take as year out, and apply next year along with everybody in their A-level year who aren't intending to take a year it.
CNS, England


Quality not more quantity is the answer to educational problems

Jeremy Rogers, England
Quality not more quantity is the answer to educational problems. Longer school terms may also put more stress on teachers who already complain of being overworked. Creating an environment in schools which encourages the will to learn and succeed is the answer I believe.
Jeremy Rogers, England

Further to Michael's point about Easter, it may even go some way towards eradicating the ridiculous notion of celebrating Easter at all. We could then turn our attention to the other great pagan festival masquerading as a Christian holy day. I'm all for it for educational reasons also.
FM, UK

What is the need to change the existing system? If something with the existing system is imperfect, then it need be only modified. Six-terms year is going to be another step towards bombarding students with more work in less time, will promote more cheating on exams. It basically will amount to more work, less education and therefore minimal actual knowledge from learning at school.
Guru Shenoy, United States

Living in Switzerland, we have 4 terms with the vacation periods that are now being proposed in the UK. It makes sense and allows parents to be far more flexible about when to take their family holidays. Also, the children have less time to get bored!
L Strauss, Switzerland


A lot of parents are in favour of the proposal because they don't like looking after their own children very much

David Yates, UK
A lot of parents are in favour of the proposal because they don't like looking after their own children very much. The solution is to do as the Americans do - send them off to camp during the summer, where they will develop lots of important skills, including social skills.
I'm not sure the proposal will go down very well among teachers, many of whom stay in the teaching profession because the long Summer holiday is the only perk of what is otherwise a low paid, low status and very stressful job. Tampering with school holidays yet again is a very good way of making the already chronic teacher shortage even worse.
David Yates, UK

As a working parent, not only would shorter more frequent holidays be easier to accommodate, I would much rather book time off work at regular intervals through the year to spend time with my son than have a long hard slog throughout the year and then completely overdose on one another's company for six solid weeks. All the children I know are desperate for the summer holidays to begin but spend the last two weeks wanting to be back at school with their friends.
Jessica Laslett, UK

Although not a perfect system at the moment, the single largest problem lies between the A-level exams and university entry. Why not have a FULL summer term, culminating in A-levels, with the university year starting in, say, January so that the exam results are known before applications were made. Effectively this would mean the universities shifting undergraduate entrance by one term with minimal disruption to all concerned. Or is this too obvious and simple?
David K, England

Everyone who is a teacher or has school age children would want to go on holiday at the same time. This would push up holiday prices. It might also mean that some parents might be unable to take annual leave during the school holidays because everyone else in their office wants it at the same time. I think it is a very bad idea
Tim Sowter, England


Everything, but everything, that the educationalists introduce into the English school system make the system worse

Tony Hague, England
Everything, but everything, that the educationalists introduce into the English school system make the system worse, our children less educated and teachers more disgruntled. This has been true for last thirty years or so and will almost certainly be true of this latest "improvement".
Tony Hague, England

I feel that this is a good idea in theory. As a teacher, and a young one at that, I get very tired as the end of the Christmas term nears. This term is something like 18 weeks long, and by the end, all parties are virtually crawling to the finish. Anything that could alleviate this would be welcomed by the majority of teachers I feel.
Wayne Buttery, Northern Ireland

One of the issues associated with shorter and more frequent holidays that no-one in the media seems to have mentioned is flexibility with regard to holiday arrangements. Currently teachers and people with children are restricted to the peak holiday times, but at least they have six weeks to choose from. How could it possibly work if everyone wanted to go on holiday at the same time?
Andrew Virnuls, United Kingdom


More frequent and shorter holidays would also help to create a more competitive holiday market by smoothing demand

David Watkins, England
There are a number of very good reasons to change the current school holiday schedule including the following. The rhythm of life in the year 2000 is very different to what it was in 1900, more frequent and shorter holidays would also help to create a more competitive holiday market by smoothing demand. Also the British industry would benefit from easier scheduling of annual leave, and the loading on roads, sea ports and airports would be smoothed (this would have significant knock on benefits when planning additional capacity). In my opinion, more and shorter break would lead to a better learning system not worse.
David Watkins, England

The current six week Summer holiday is a long time for children from poorer families to go without free school meals. Shorter, more frequent holidays may help spread the financial burden for parents caring for their children during the Summer.
Lyn, UK

What a shame if school children could no longer enjoy the long summer holidays. Children need time to take things at their own pace rather than fitting into structured timetables all the time. I remember going back to school in September fully refreshed and eager to see my friends and do some work. With shorter breaks I am sure I wouldn't have felt that same enthusiasm.
Rebecca, UK


I agree that long summer holidays are too long but splitting it into 6 terms is the opposite extreme

Margaret Carre, Belgium
I agree that long summer holidays are too long (in Belgium it is 2 months!) but splitting it into 6 terms is the opposite extreme. As already said there would be no continuity of work and kids always thinking about the next "break".
In Belgium the kids have regular weekly tests and the results count as 50% of the end of year result i.e. you cannot pass the year on exam results alone - work all year round is required. Some changes could be made to the UK system but not so drastic. Regarding staggered holidays in different regions - the Belgians tried that with different dates for Flemish and French schools - they went back to the original system.
Margaret Carre, Belgium

What? Its totally unnecessary to change the school system, any changes will just result in more work for teachers in organisation and less work for children. Having just passed through the current system, I can say it works fine and as for the comments that kids don't care about education that's absolute rubbish.
Pete, UK

This would seem, on the face of it, to be a rational response to the problems inherent in the current system. But, what will the impact be on industry, with the obvious change in the holiday patterns of working parents?
And how will the holiday industry react to the removal of the current school summer holiday, with its corresponding high prices? Would this spell the end of the cheap, off-peak foreign holiday?
Al, UK


Anything that more evenly distributes the stress of teaching throughout the year must be a good thing

Michael Kilpatrick, UK
Anything that more evenly distributes the stress of teaching throughout the year must be a good thing, and anything that avoids the absurd practice of holding exams in high summer likewise!
Furthermore it's a step towards eradicating the absurd notion of having Easter at completely different times each year!
Michael Kilpatrick, UK

I'm half-way through my GCSE's and I'd welcome lots of week-long or fortnight-long breaks, especially with coursework and regular tests that teachers set us. A bit of short time apparently allows the stuff one learns to settle in the head and besides which, it's good to have a little bit of time to re-charge your batteries.
Kevin Larkin, UK


If you give them more separated holidays they will spend all their time looking forward to their next break and never concentrating on the work

Paul Charters, England
Children have enough trouble trying to break out of the holiday mood and get back into studying. If you give them more separated holidays they will spend all their time looking forward to their next break and never concentrating on the work they need to get done.
I think that taking a couple of weeks off the summer holidays and adding it to the other holidays may be better. After all, working parents have to arrange time off work to be with their children, but you just try and book 6 weeks off work these days. If you have that much allowance I envy you!
Paul Charters, England

There exist two extremes with respect to education: The American school system, also known to be just an extended summer camp. Or the Japanese school system otherwise known as an educational slave-labour camp. I am glad to see that the British are moving more towards the centre.
Alex, US

So when are A-Level students supposed to get a job to pay their tuition fees? And to answer Rajish in his question about what benefits the government gives clever children, the answer is simple. A 3000 fine (tuition fees) and a higher tax load.
Chris, England

I think moving the summer holiday to July is a good idea, for those of us with relations in Europe, it would be far better if our holiday was at the same time as theirs, so we can visit each other for longer periods.
Nathan Hogg, UK

The system is fine as it is. Why change something that's not broke? When I was a kid I loved the summer holidays. I wouldn't like to deprive my kids of this. Parents who complain about their kids should look more at themselves than their kids.
Sean, Ireland

You are proving once again why most other countries still follow the British method of education. Keep it up!!
William Jones, Canada


Can we borrow some of your education officials to fix our broken system?

Paul Shuntz, USA
As though your A-level exams didn't already put our insanely easy SAT's to shame, now you are sending your kids to school more often...can we borrow some of your education officials to fix our broken system?
Paul Shuntz, USA

An absolute non-starter. Try persuading teachers to take this on board
Bill Tush, UK

I agree with Caroline that there are too many half term holidays, it should only be at the end-of-term and the summer break.
However, the problem with the current education system is that children aren't encouraged to progress because they know that at the end of the year if they fail or pass their exams they will still move UP a year.
The school system is flawed in that a child's end of year exam results should state if they are to move UP a year. After all, a 14 year old child in a class of 12 year olds should be enough to encourage the 14 year old to study harder so he/she can progress upwards. This should separate the children who are genuinely interested in learning from those who are not and who tend to disrupt lessons.
M Naeem J, UK


The teachers are not interested in what is best for the students or the parents, only what is best for them

Tim G, UK
The comments of parents and governors are totally irrelevant in the argument. The teachers are not interested in what is best for the students or the parents, only what is best for them. And with the government unwilling to stand up to the teachers and force them to do a proper job, whatever proposals are put forward, the teachers will veto unless it gives them more holiday, less work and more pay, and no accountability what so ever for their performance.
Roll on another 100 years unchanged and sitting at the bottom of the Western world's education figures, courtesy of the teachers.
Tim G, UK

The fact that you are even considering changing the current absurd length of school holidays shows just how far ahead of the US you guys are with respect to education. Over here high schools give at least nine weeks of summer vacation while most colleges give up to four months! Most of the time these kids are left to vegetate at home for long periods of time or work menial jobs at the mall while they earn minimum wage and learn very little. This may explain why, at least in education, the USA still lags behind both Europe and Asia.
John, USA

One of my sons attends a City Technology College (non-fee paying alternative to secondary school) which already runs the five term system. We have found this to work extremely well for everyone, in particular because there are no ad-hoc 'in service days'. This is a much better work pattern for parents and children alike and we would highly recommend it.
Andrew Cash, England


Education needs this like it needs a hole in the head

Nicholas Evans, UK
Teachers over the last few years have had a raw deal. Do we need to inflict them further with talk of a six term academic year? The problems posed for such a system would be out of proportion to its effectiveness. Education needs this like it needs a hole in the head. Another example of "modernisation" which we don't need. When will the experts come up with something which really will improve our education system, rather than messing about with dates?
Nicholas Evans, UK

I think the exams being so late in the academic year cause needless stress on those who blindly apply for a place in higher education without first knowing their exams grades. I therefore welcome the six-term school year.
Chris Brown, England

Sitting A-levels in April or May won't make any difference to applying for university, since students have to apply before the end of December the previous year. Also, instead of changing the duration and timing of school terms, the school day should be made longer.
Educationalists complain there isn't enough time in the school day to teach everything as it is, so why not extend the school day by two hours? Nothing is expected of children these days, they get everything handed to them on a plate. Why not make them work a bit harder? It might teach them what life will be like when they grow up.
Louise Capon, UK

This proposal does little for working parents. It keeps an impossibly long six week break which seems to go against the findings that pupils slip back in attainment levels during such long breaks.
The six week summer break is just a teachers perk that does nothing for children's education. We should be rid of it.
Jeffrey Langdon, England

I live in Scotland and we have virtually had a five term year here for ages. The kids have two weeks off in October, which makes the Autumn term bearable. (Used to be the "Tattie Holidays", when kids went to gather potatoes).
It is also to our advantage at present that we finish school at the end of June and Summer Holidays abroad are much cheaper than July! Go for a five-term year NOT a six-term year.
Alasdair Cameron, Scotland


As a father of four boys, and as a kid once myself, the summer holidays are a time when kids can be kids ...

Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
It's almost easy to say that school should continue throughout the summer, for it plays to so many of our "politically correct" bogey men! However, as a father of four boys, and as a kid once myself, the summer holidays are a time when kids can be kids ...
I get a big kick out of my kids enjoying themselves in the yard (garden), free of concerns, oblivious to the stresses and strains of life; this period of their development is probably the only time in their lives when they will be able to enjoy such true freedom, and I see no reason to deny them of it.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

It's an awful idea. You'd be taking away one of the few attractive reasons to become a teacher...long holidays. What a really good way to recruit teachers that is, given the recruitment crisis at the moment!
Jonathan Stone, UK


If I knew what my A-level results were before applying for universities wouldn't I be better able to choose university courses that fits my grades?

Tom Hunt, Britain
If I knew what my A-level results were before applying for universities wouldn't I be better able to choose university courses that fits my grades? I got higher grades than expected but it was too late to change my application to lower grade universities to somewhere like Oxford or Cambridge.
Using that knowledge would also help students plan out and assess their options effectively.
Tom Hunt, Britain


The more frequent the breaks, the less continuity there is in schoolwork as they are really unsettling

Caroline, UK
I spent my first school years in Poland about 20 years ago, where half-term holidays were unheard of, and when I moved to London 10 years later I was amazed to find the school year broken up by half-term holidays. In my experience, the more frequent the breaks, the less continuity there is in schoolwork as they are really unsettling. Also it promotes a shorter attention span! This is quite apart from the hassle half-term holidays cause parents and employers. Also, with frequent short breaks during the year, there is a tendency for children to be given additional work to do during their holidays, which just encourages the current obsession with spending all available time working (both children and adults).
Caroline, UK

It doesn't matter how long the term is, kids do not care about studying. These days all the media promotes is stars and footballers. No wonder this country is going downhill. What benefit's do clever children get from the Government? The simple answer is NOTHING! We have only ourselves to blame!
Rajish, UK

I can see two problems with the proposals: If exams are earlier students will not work between the end of the exams and the start of the new term in the autumn. Having a 6-week summer break is still too long. There is nothing for children to do during this period. It should be more like 4 weeks, with more 1 or 2 week breaks throughout the rest of the year.
Martin R, UK


It would be a good idea because it would encourage pupils to work to the best of their ability

Lizz, UK
It would be a good idea because it would encourage pupils to work to the best of their ability. At the moment if you get an offer from your university of choice which is below what you are capable of it is all too easy to sit back and relax. It may also open up possibilities to students who are less self-confident about their abilities. Additionally, pupils would not have to take time off to visit universities for interviews while they are trying to study. Surely this is something which should be implemented as soon as possible.
Lizz, UK

I think that this is a great proposal! Anything to relieve the stress put upon parents trying to keep their children entertained for the current six-week summer holiday has got to be good!
Katy Burke, UK

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See also:

31 Aug 00 | Education
Six-term school year proposed
31 Aug 00 | Education
Scotland sets pace for change
22 May 00 | Education
A-level timing is 'unfair'
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