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Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 14:44 UK
Views sought over big change to Calderdale school terms
Children and teacher in classroom
There are mixed views in Calderdale over proposed changes to term lengths

Schools in Calderdale are being asked if they would like to see the end of the long summer holiday and the introduction of six equal school terms.

Halifax's Trinity Academy plans to make the change, with other schools now being asked if they want do the same.

Supporters say the long summer break affects children's learning.

But Ashton Thripland from the NASUWT teaching union warned: "This will make it more difficult for people to spend quality time together as a family."

Calderdale Council is consulting with parents, staff and governors across the district, asking them for their views about the proposed change from three to six terms a year.

Firm evidence

David Kirk, executive head teacher of Ash Green Primary and Dean Field Primary in Halifax, said he supported an end to the long summer holiday.

He said: "We believe we have firm evidence that says over a long six week period children regress in their learning.

"Certainly the average child at Ash Green or Dean Field will regress by about a term over the six week holiday.

"In extreme cases, that can be a bit longer."

But, Graham Maslen, head teacher at North Halifax Grammar School, said while the current system was not perfect, changing it would not be an ideal solution either.

He explained: "The problem is for parents. If you have children who are in more than one school - younger children in a primary, others in secondary schools - they are all running to different holiday dates.

"The planning of their own lives is much more problematic."

Work experience

Mr Maslen said the longer autumn term also meant that children in Year 11 had time to take part in work experience and complete their mock exams.

David Kirk said while he understood that any change to term times would not be without its problems, it was certainly an idea worth considering.

He said: "I have certainly found when we have balloted our staff that they were very much in favour of it.

"You could argue that it needs to be wider than the local authority, it really needs to be almost national.

"I do also think that everything has to start somewhere and if we could, perhaps, get a group of schools together who serve virtually the same community then it is an option I think we should try and pursue."

National change

If this idea is going to go forward, it should be done nationally by the government.
Ashton Thripland, NASUWT

From the NASUWT teaching union, Ashton Thripland said he was unconvinced by arguments about children's education being set back by taking a long summer holiday.

But he said if these proposals were to be put into action, it would be preferable to make it a national change rather than just a local one.

He said: "People work across boundaries, people commute to work in different authorities.

"If this idea is going to go forward, it should be done nationally by the government. Changing it locally doesn't work.

"If these people want it to happen, they need to lobby national government and push for change on a national basis."

The consultation process in Calderdale over the proposed changes to the length of the district's school terms runs until 7 January 2011.

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