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Could this be the end of the long summer holiday in schools?

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Ah the Conservatives and their penchant for deregulation. It has been announced that the government’s deregulation bill will abolish the right of local authorities to set school term dates and school holiday lengths and give that power to individual schools.

There are many institutional problems with education in Britain, but if you polled parents, teachers and governors, the chances that term dates and school holidays would figure high in their list of concerns are reasonably slim. In a classic ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ scenario, Michael Gove has potentially added fresh layers of complexity to schools and families when he would perhaps be better trying to actually improve education.

There are all kinds of arguments in play. Are the holidays too long for parents to find adequate childcare? Do children lose a handle on the knowledge gained in the previous school year because six weeks is too long a break? Will schools setting different term times affect families with children at different schools? How will this affect teachers with children? And isn’t this potentially the end of an institution – the long carefree summer holidays that infuses our greatest childhood memories?

The new legislation will extend the right to set term dates beyond private schools and academies and across the entire state sector.

"It is heads and teachers who know their parents and pupils best, not local authorities. So it is right that all schools are free to set their own term dates in the interests of parents and pupils," a spokesman for the Department for Education said. This is of course the same logic that maintained bankers knew best about how to make their investors a profit rather than governments or regulators.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said, "Most schools choose to follow the local authority calendar because they know that it's better for parents who have children in different schools and teachers who want their holidays to coincide with their children's.

"The problem will come if no one is responsible for creating a co-ordinated calendar for an area and it turns into a free-for-all. Somebody needs to take the lead locally on deciding term dates and it makes sense for this to be the local authority, even if schools aren't required by law to follow it."

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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