Posted: Tue 4th Jun 2024

Plans for shorter school holidays in Wales put on hold

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Plans to change school holidays in Wales have been postponed until the next Senedd term, the Cabinet Secretary for Education has confirmed.

Education Secretary Lynne Neagle said the decision allows schools to focus on other educational reforms and improve student attainment without the added pressure of altering the school calendar.

The move follows a Welsh Government consultation, which received over 16,000 responses, revealing mixed opinions on redistributing school holidays.

The proposal suggested moving a week from the summer break to the autumn term, creating a two-week half-term to better align with family life and potentially enhance educational experiences, particularly for disadvantaged students.

Despite a narrow majority favouring the change, the consultation’s findings highlighted the need for further discussion.

Consequently, the decision on implementing the changes has been deferred to the next Senedd term.

Lynne Neagle stated, “My starting point is always the best interests of children and young people. This means ensuring reforms are properly planned out and have the time and space to succeed.”

The minister emphasised the importance of continued engagement with schools, teachers, unions, and families to refine the proposed changes.

She acknowledged the significant demands placed on educators and schools as they support the ambitious transformation of Wales’ education system, including the New Curriculum for Wales and Additional Learning Needs reforms.

“In the meantime, our priority will be to maximize the support available to learners during the summer holidays, especially in the poorest communities,”

Ms Neagle added, highlighting initiatives such as the School Holiday Enrichment Programme and Community Focused Schools.

Responding to the announcement, Tom Giffard MS, Shadow Education Minister, criticised the decision. “Education in Wales is in crisis with soaring absenteeism, a shocking decline in education standards, the worst PISA results in the UK, and rising incidences of violence plaguing our schools.”

Mr Giffard called for the Labour Government to abandon the reform entirely, citing opposition from teachers’ unions, the tourism sector, and business communities.

“Kicking this into the long grass is not good enough. Labour cannot ignore every teacher’s union, let alone the tourism and business sectors, who are against the plans. The policy needs to be scrapped completely,” he said.

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