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Friday, September 10, 1999 Published at 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK


Five term primary school - your reaction

Read what News Online users think of the five term school year.

This crazy scheme will hit those of us who have no desire to take foreign holidays. With the summer break only 4 weeks long and extra weeks elsewhere the UK holiday industry will finally be finished off. Then the advertised benefit of being able to take cheaper holidays abroad earlier in the year will vanish as the holiday companies adjust their prices to suit.
John Lewis, UK

I have three children at boarding school in the UK. Five terms would create much additional cost and would be logistically difficult. It would also be unsettling for the children and interrupt academic continuity.
Jennifer Sharples, USA

I fully support the education authorities for trying to do something for our children. If I was a kid again, I would be looking forward to a two-week break every couple of months and a DOUBLE break in mid-summer! What a load of old hippies some people are, thinking only about themselves and not how the children should be treated. Make it national for a 5 term school year.
John Churchman, UK

I find it appalling to read the anti-teacher sentiments expressed by many contributors. Where exactly is the real world? Is the Private Sector the only real world that exists? If teaching is so good a job do it or are you not really all that qualified and have an enormous chip on your shoulder extending back to those bad teachers that taught you many moons ago? By the way Scottish education is not in an appalling state. Of course schools are run for the benefit of children - but they are not run as a (cheap) childminding facility for all those real workers out there.
J Middleton, Scotland

Absolutely - an excellent idea giving a much better balance to the teaching year. The major problem is to get all schools to accept otherwise it will prove difficult for parents with children at different schools/age group. There is no credible argument against the concept
Brian, England

The 5 term year is realistic. The present is not. As a child it was too long a break from study, my 5yr old son suffers the same now and I feel he needs the breaks the new system will bring. As for the offered comment of it taking a last 'perk' for teachers they should look outside the profession where benefits are attributed to productivity and not at the cost to others i.e. the children.
Stephen Powell, UK

So if the current number of weeks off is so good - 'a perk' - how come teacher recruitment is so bad? And if I hear the comment 'join the real world' or similar again I might just........ZZZZZZZzzz....too late! Hey if we've got it so good why not come and join us here in noddy world. (clown outfit optional) Or maybe you daren't - why? 5 terms/3 terms/4 terms - doesn't matter - kids forget what you taught them 5 mins ago let alone 6 weeks /two weeks!!!
Hudson Jones, UK

With the introduction of a five week term has anyone considered the implications for adult education? How can a parent successfully complete courses when they have to keep taking time off to look after children on holiday from school?
S. Yates, England

As Director of Education for North East Lincolnshire, I have supported the initiative on the grounds of the perceived, though not yet proven, educational benefits to the children. Thus, the question for me was why not try it? I shall await the external evaluation with interest and an open mind. I hope that everyone else with an opinion can do likewise.
Geoff Hill, England

Don't do it!! My boys are on a so-called year round schedule it's terrible we are going to sell our house and move to avoid it! The next county over to us switched back to traditional school calendar due to pressure from parents. They are in school in the heat of the summer and expected to go to bed while the sun shines so they can get up for school.
Also if you think it's hard finding things to do all summer, try occupying two energy filled boys day after day in the dead of winter knowing that it won't be long before the next school break comes along again filled with more cold weather and short winter days! Let the teachers have the long holidays they deserve them they are in the trenches day after day and get no respect.
Pauline, US ex UK

We can always rely on the Unions to put their own interests first. What a pity they cannot see that the 5-term year is in the best interests of the children.
Eric G. Happe, Brit in the USA

If the local teachers and parents support it, it should be allowed to go ahead. What may suit East Sussex, for example, may not suit Grimsby. National organisations should not have the right to block local initiatives that suit the local people proposing it.
Steve Dixey, UK

The five-term year should be adopted by more schools. The long summer holiday causes problems for children and parents - shorter holidays would simplify childcare arrangements, and reduce boredom and the stress of returning to the school routine. It would allow us to book cheaper holidays in early summer and spread our own vacations more evenly across the calendar. Most of us only have four or five weeks holiday a year - twelve weeks off is a fantastic "perk" in itself.
Chris McGinn, England

As a new teaching student I do not mind the prospect of a five term year. I would like to say it is the unions who are objecting to the shortened holiday all the teachers I know are willing to see the results in the classroom before they decide if it is a good idea or not. What concerns me about the change is the influence it will have on the holiday industry and all other areas that make their profits from six weeks holiday time as the choice of holiday will be restricted in time for the same amount of families. Remember also parents are strongly advised not to take children out of school during term time.
Marion Calder, England

1. There is no evidence that the long summer break adversely affects performance of the children.
2. The vast majority of teaching staff enjoy the long summer break and would rather have holidays during the summer when the weather is warmer and there are more hours of daylight.
Michael Douglas, England

As an ex-teacher and a parent I think the idea of 5 terms and short holidays is a wonderful one. Surely it is better for children to be occupied and busy, learning, having the security and safety of a school environment for long periods, rather than the endless waste of time in the summer. It is also impossible for single parents to work full time and arrange adequate child care during these periods. Please bring this in nationwide for secondary and primary children. I fully support it. (The last great perk of teaching? Who is teaching for - the providers or the parents and CHILDREN!!!
Mrs Laraine Moore, England

It is interesting to note that so much public reaction to school holidays seems to be dictated by envy, even, in some cases, to the point where children are to work the same hours as adults and thank their lucky stars that they are not down the mines.
Whilst believing the five term year is an idea worth trying, I am worried that such negative attitudes will become the norm as adults are forced to become more obsessed with their jobs than their families. In a society in which it is common for both parents to work, maybe holidays ought to be lengthened for everyone.
J. Nelson, England.

The idea of change inevitably poses concerns for those traditionally challenged by change. For the wider populace, the idea of cheaper holidays - no more summer 'peak' and the fact that children will no longer 'switch off' is more than enough to attract them to make that change. The sooner unions bite the bullet and accept the inevitable, if slow, progression to better learning arrangements, the better.
Joe Knappett, UK

How sad that children could be denied the joy of the long break... the longest holiday that most people will ever get. For me the summer holiday (nearly three months in Greece where I spent some of my childhood) was a time where the imagination had its chance to flourish, as well as a time to run around and play. The five-term idea is another step towards a system designed to improve not their minds or their emotional lives but their exam results. I question who this benefits.
Louise , UK

If the UK government are serious about getting mothers back to work, surely the amount of time off children have is one of the first issues that needs to be addressed. I can see that the extensive holidays that teachers have could be their only perk, but this is no reason to stop this initiative going through. I do hope that both teachers and unions can make this work and introduce it to the rest of the country soon.
Rob Moran, Scotland

My parents both were teachers, and I have many friends who teach at various levels, and they all had a common philosophy - if it wasn't for the summer break, they all would have quit teaching years ago. It's such a stressful and difficult job that teachers must have an extended break or risk burnout. And, no, I'm not a teacher, but a journalist.
Ann, USA

Teachers think the long holiday is the last great perk. Maybe I have missed something here, but are we not more concerned with the children.
Raymond D Grafton, USA

I think the trial is a very bold step for the school and I applaud their efforts to improve the standard of education they offer. This in the face of such short sighted arguments put forward by out of touch Unions more interested in 'HOLIDAYS' than the education of our children and preparing them for the future.
Mr P.M.Barron, England

This appears to be change for change's sake. Neither the teachers nor the parents want this re-organisation and the children certainly don't. In a world where student debts and peer pressure take away the carefree nature of childhood earlier and earlier, the long summer break is the last real chance to enjoy freedom for many years.
K Sadler, UK

As a nation we have to compete to educate our children more effectively. A five-term year may or may not be a better option but if we risk nothing, we will ultimately lose ground.
G, Macmillan, Scotland

What are the parents of these children to do during these frequent two week breaks and where are the children to be cared for during this time? Answers please from someone who has two children and cannot afford to take a break from work for two weeks every two months and whose total net income does not extend to nannies or paid childcare; i.e. NOT a politician
Frank Broadbent, UK

I think teachers should stop whinging and join the real world of work. For too long they have had it easy with their extremely long summer, Easter and Christmas breaks. I'm sure it's not all a bed of roses but this change leaves them with ten weeks of holiday which is double the norm. Stop moaning!
Bruce Tiplady, UK

My office is not air-conditioned and becomes very hot during the summer holidays (end of July/August). This in turn makes it difficult to concentrate. How can we expect our children, who are easily distracted, to perform at their best during the hottest period of the year. Are the government going to supply grants to provide air-conditioning?
Caron, England

This change must be beneficial for all concerned, including teachers, who once they overcome their reluctance to forego their long summer break will see clear benefits for their work. Self-interest on the part of teachers holds back learning opportunities for children.
Peter Donkin, UK

The pay and conditions of teachers in the UK is such that they caused me to go in search of employment abroad. If the 5-term year is widely adopted it looks like my future lies abroad.
Partridge N D, Peru

I am head of education within a secure unit. We have operated a 4-week summer holiday for many years. We also have started to implement a 5-term year. It appears to me that unions are acting as if this represents a threat to holidays, Which it doesn't and as if there is an advantage to working longer terms with only short spells for recuperation. The 5-term year impresses me and it allows better planning for teachers.
Steve Osmond, England

A long six week break in the summer is essential. Particularly in Britain where the weather is much better in the summer. Even countries like USA with two semesters have a long summer holiday, longer in fact, than six weeks. Australia and New Zealand also have a 6-week summer holiday although they have a four term year. This is a proposal of the 'all work and no play' brigade.
Alun A.Preece, Australia

I believe the arguments for the 5-term year take into account the benefits of periods of recovery for both teachers and pupils. The standard holiday rip-off periods of Christmas and summer will allow less well off families to take better holidays.
The only argument against is that the long summer break is the last perk for teachers. Perhaps if teachers moved away from the idea of considering 3 months holiday a year as their right, they may become more in tune with the rest of industry and their performance may begin to improve from its present deplorable level.
James McCarthy, UK

The idea of a five term year seems to be logical and sensible. There will be no compelling evidence for or against it until it has been tested. There is no evidence that a three term year is better than a five term year. I am surprised that the unions seem to be condemning the idea. It can be inferred that their spokesmen care far less for the education of school pupils than their own selfish interests.
David Howells, UK

I find it typical of teachers to put themselves first when they say they want their long summer holiday because it is their last perk - the children's needs come first, not theirs. Welcome to the real world. Perhaps when the educational standards in this country have risen to an acceptable level the teachers will deserve their perks. The question is - what do the long summer holidays achieve? (Apart from keeping the teachers happy)- children become bored, parents have to find childminders - The only advantage to the long holiday is the dramatic decrease in traffic during the school run hours which makes travelling to work (for those of us who have a normal working timetable) almost a pleasure.
A Peck, UK

As a parent I (and my children) are all in favour of a 5 term school year. We don't have any particular academic or intellectual arguments to put forward, it just seems to offer a more sensible use of children's' time than the present system. My children get bored during the long summer holidays, miss their school friends and always find September a daunting prospect. Going back to school is always a bigger obstacle to be overcome than it need be.
Ian Spratley, UK

As a parent whose wife does not work, I am all for a five term year. For the last six weeks our children have been at home and apart from the last week, the weather has been awful. This causes her a lot of strain in having to find things for them to do when it's raining outside. Also, I think children learn more when given knowledge in small doses. I remember starting each new school year having completely forgotten what I had done the previous year.
The argument that the long summer holiday is the last 'perk' for teachers is also not true. I think I would prefer a lot more smaller breaks throughout the year rather than one long one in summer. I wonder how travel companies would react given their current pricing structures over the summer holidays. I would think that spreading holidays over the year would result in more even prices throughout the year.
Brett Smith, England

If the five term year was widely adopted, families would be trying to book their summer holidays in the same fortnight, which would be a nightmare. The likely result is that many families would withdraw their children from school in term time in order to take holidays when it was more convenient.
Nick Warren, UK

Academic learning is not the only, and certainly not the most important aspect of growing as a human being. The summer vacation is an essential time for children to learn and grow through exploration, holidays and focusing on their hobbies. I my opinion the 5 term year will have more of a negative impact on children's psychological well being than it is worth in academic education.
Matt Woodget, UK

I would expect the adoption of a five term year to bring benefits in terms of retention of information. If knowledge is not used and refreshed, it is forgotten over time. How many people can recall how poorly details from the previous school year were remembered at the start of the next? I know it took me a few weeks to get back up to speed.
Ben Forshaw, United Kingdom

Unless there is a general relaxation on the amount of time parents may take children out of school for holidays there will be conflict between the authorities and parents.
Mr M J Morritt, UK

About time. For too long the education system has been backward in this country. What is (was) the point of a 6-week break in mid summer? Just so teachers could have a nice break? Probably. Children should learn from an early age that they have to work - they will have to get used to working for long periods with short breaks in between.
Hopefully, in the future the number of holidays will be cut to 4 - 5 weeks per year - in line with the rest of the working population. The education system should be there to educate children - not to provide teachers with a 'cushy number'.
Ian Watson, England

My children attended a school that had a 4 term school year and we all thought it worked well and was very convenient. The children had continuity of education and didn't get bored during the shorter holidays.
Chris Toner, England

In today's world we are encourage to perform. Making adjustments that may take some of the pressure off all parties concerned will surely help.
Sarah, New Zealand

Excellent. Much more realistic for working parents to manage care during holidays, also better for more consistent teaching.
R Bailey, UK

As far as the 'last perk of teaching' is concerned, I would give anything to have 4 consecutive weeks off in the summer, let alone another extra two week breaks throughout the year. Most workers have to make do with a total of 4 or 5 weeks leave a year. Instead of thinking about job 'perks', shouldn't the best interests of the kids education come first?
S Parsons, UK

Five terms, great idea - may also help reduce burn-out in teaching staff with the shorter, more frequent breaks
Julie Soane, UK

It is not the amount of time that a child spends in school, which determines how well educated a child will be. It is solely down to the quality of the teaching and the curriculum the child has to endure. Other countries, such as Ireland and Switzerland, give their children substantial summer holidays as well as further breaks throughout the year, and their children are educated to a far higher standard than the children in the UK. Maybe the UK government should start thinking about the children for a change and start looking at systems that already work else where in the world, rather than constantly trying to re-invent the wheel.
Richard Houlihan, Switzerland

Sounds good - certainly worth a try. As a single working parent, I think I'd find this easier to accommodate.
Diane Lynas, Scotland

A wise decision and one that was been long over due
Ruth Phillips, England

I wholly agree with the idea of introducing this type of school year. Children who have nothing to do over long extended holidays are prone to delinquency and to wasting their time in activities which do not increase their knowledge or life experience. Whilst teachers may resent the reduction in the summer holiday, more frequent breaks during the year will allow them to better plan their classes, reduce their stress levels and spend day-time with their families on a more regular basis.
Owain Williams, UK

Isn't it about time we looked at what's good for the children, instead of what's convenient for teachers and parents? We all recommend regular breaks for children when revising for exams - this new system, on a larger scale, is exactly what that is. Children do easily forget basics over a long summer holiday, not to mention uttering the eventual ubiquitous "I'm bored".....!
Mrs Lina Panchal, England

Potentially I think it is a good idea for schools, although college/university students would be hard hit if adopted there, as it would remove their ability to earn money during the summer break.
Jacky Grace, UK

Where does the idea of school holidays come from? Considering children were being worked down mines and stuffed up chimneys prior to the education act, I can't imagine them turning round and saying, "Can we have half the year off as holidays as well?" If the last perk left to teachers is the long summer holiday, what do they think their 24 hour week is? Oh, I forgot. They also have to 'prepare' the lessons, because the business of educating the young is so dis-organised that they are unable to 'prepare' their classes work during their own excessive breaks from work. I have a very low opinion of teachers, having been educated at both a grammar school and a very progressive comprehensive. Teachers, I find, are little different in personality types, merely in their teaching methods and and in their levels of whinging.
Clive Maxwell-Yates, UK

One of your users, Mr Geoff Hill, who is Director of Education for North East Lincolnshire, has stated: 'Thus, the question for me was why not try it?' This is a very commendable attitude, I just hope he experiments on his own children first, before my child becomes the latest educational guinea-pig.
Kathy Collins, UK

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