Posted: Thu 25th Feb 2021

Shorter summer holiday, longer Christmas break is a “debate” to be had, says Education Minister

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 25th, 2021

Education minister Kirsty Williams has said there is a “debate” to be had around shortening the school summer holiday and extending the Christmas break.

She said scientists are concerned about an autumn or winter flare up of Covid infections and restructuring the year could be beneficial to learners.

During a live Q&A held on the Welsh government Facebook page, the education minister was asked: “There’s a lot of speculation that the summer holidays will be kept and also longer school days, is there any truth in this.”

In response, Kirsty Williams said: “There’s long been a debate in education about whether we organise our academic year in a way that is best for children and best for learning. So this is not a new phenomenon, nor is it a new debate.”

“I think it’s also important to recognise that children and families and those that work with them will need to have a break at the summer.”

“If we were to shorten the summer holidays in any way at all, we would want to make sure that that time was reorganised later in the year.”

“I know that we’re feeling much more hopeful that the vaccination is coming forward and giving us real hope but we also need to be cognizant of the fact that our scientists are a bit worried about what Covid might do in the autumn and winter.”

“I think there is a debate to be had about whether we have a slightly shorter summer holiday and then add those weeks on maybe to the Christmas holidays when we think we could find ourselves in a bit of a challenging situation again.”

Laura Doel, director of school leaders union NAHT Cymru, said ideas like cutting the summer holidays or extending school hours are “superficially attractive ‘quick fixes’ but they could do more harm than good in the long run.”

“Additional teaching hours won’t actually increase a child’s capacity to learn.” They are still children and we need to think first about what is best for them.”

“We must be wary of compounding the wellbeing issues undoubtedly facing children by keeping them in school for longer. They need to experience their childhood norms again.”

“Children have missed out on interaction with other children, they need to be allowed to play, see friends, enjoy all those experience that are so important to their social development.”

“Summer schools and additional learning could be of value for some pupils but we have to allow educators the time and flexibility to assess the needs of individual pupils and to do what is best for them. Recovery cannot happen in a single summer.”

“It’s important that we have a long-term, evidence-based plan for education recovery, and avoid short-term, ultimately shallow catch-up ideas.”

“High-quality of teaching is the most important driver of educational equity, and the best contribution the government could make is to value and invest in the teaching profession.”

“This is potentially the most important moment of the pandemic for children and young people – the recovery. We need the government’s support to make sure teachers and school leaders are able to be the very best they can be for all those relying on them.”

 

 

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