The re-working of an old debate or the re-opening of an old wound?

I was invited into the studio of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to speak with Andie Harper this morning. Following a call by the NAHT for “more frequent, shorter holidays staggered across the country on a regional basis to reduce the holiday price premium” we are braced for the re-working of an old debate (which I covered in a blog earlier this year) dating back to 1887 and the re-opening of an old wound.

Whilst this current iteration seems to centre around the even distribution of the summer holidays, the debate sits against a backdrop of calls to reduce holidays and extend the school day. Academies, voluntary-aided and free schools in England already have powers to vary the school year and the timings of the school day, though few choose to do so.

For a better understanding of the debate read my previous commentary on the subject and listen again to my interview on the mid-morning drive-time.

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In summary however, I was asked this morning what I would do instead. I don’t think I answered this question well but I tell you now what I wouldn’t do:

  1. Make any changes if there isn’t additional financial resource to support such a move. I believe bringing the teaching profession into line with other professions (the very aim of the 19th century reformers who proposed such holidays in the first instance) would be a good thing. But right now reform is an ambition, not a policy. Even though the additional expenditure is considered by the EEF as “moderate”, nonetheless additional expenditure there would need to be.
  2. Increase school contact hours in a way that reduced time for other positive activities either for pupils (such as providing dedicated space and support for homework or arts/sporting enrichment) or for teachers (such as enhanced collaborative space for planning and assessment).

At the Relational Schools Project we are convinced that personal and social well-being depends upon the quality of relationships within families and communities and within and between orgnaisations. Whatever is done, let it be for the right reasons!

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