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Motions to oppose shorter summer schools holidays in Wales backed by councillors 

A RESPONSE to the Welsh Government’s consultation on shortening the school summer holidays said that it could affect cultural events in Powys a senior councillor has said.

At a meeting of Powys County Council, a motion asking the council to lobby the Welsh Government against the proposal was put forward by Cllr Gareth D Jones of the Independent group.

He believes that changing the term times and length would have a “detrimental effect” on the Powys rural economy and a huge impact on the Royal Welsh Show (RWS),

The RWS has already raised concerns that shortening the summer holiday could impact the show which takes place at the start of the holiday period.

Royal Welsh Showground (Pic: Julian Osley, Creative Commons)

The motion that was debated had been amended from the original version that was due to be presented to council.

Cllr Jones said: “We call on council to lobby Welsh Government in response to the proposals to shorten school summer holidays.

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“Counties throughout Wales should retain their ability to change term-time arrangements to ensure the RWS continues to fall within the school holidays.

“Furthermore, the council wishes Welsh Government to know that there are economic, social, and logistical reasons why the RWS should not be held during term time and the council calls on Welsh Government to consider this impact when assessing the evidence – for and against – for altering the current term-time arrangements to shorten the summer holidays.”

The actual consultation on the proposal took place between from November 21 to February 12 and the Welsh Government are currently sifting through the responses.

Education portfolio holder, Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts said: “The consultation has already ended, and the Mid Wales education partnership submitted quite a detailed response.

“In that we highlighted the impact of the long autumn term on teachers, the need for having six-weeks to recover at the end of the school year.

“We highlighted that such changes need to be mindful of the culturally significant events that fall in the summer holidays.

“This motion adds the strength of elected councillors to sit alongside the professional views of our education colleagues.”

He added that he would support the motion.

Cllr Pete Roberts – Cabinet member for Learning Powys which includes the education portfolio (Pic: Powys County Council)

Earlier in the debate Conservative Cllr Gwynfor Thomas who seconded the motion said: “It would be a crying shame if we don’t allow our children to attend the RWS.

“School holidays are something to be treasured, there’s much more important things for the Welsh Government to do to improve education and this is a deflection.”

Cllr Claire Johnson-Wood of the Independent’s for Powys, said: “Not all learning is done in the classroom and there are activities at the show that are offered to young people, and they gain so much from it.”

Cllr Johnson-Wood added that many teenagers aged 16 to 18 years old worked at the show, and that Young Farmers competed there.

“Our young people are going to lose out so much, they gain confidence and self-esteem from working with others and performing, it’s an invaluable resource both locally and across Wales, ” said Cllr Johnson Wood.

Cllr Claire Johnson Wood (Pic: Powys County Council)

Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Bryn Davies added that it was another example of the Welsh Government “being deaf” to the needs of rural communities.

Several councillors believed that you could be supportive of both a shorter term time and the RWS.

Deputy council leader, Labour’s Cllr Matthew Dorrance pointed out that term times had not changed for over 150 years ago when “Queen Victoria was on the throne” at a time when school attendance was voluntary and there was no set curriculum.

Cllr Dorrance added that the Welsh Government needed to be “mindful” of any decision that impacts on the RWS.

A vote was held, and the motion was approved with 53 councillors voting in favour, one against and two abstentions.

The Royal Welsh Show is due to be held this year from Monday, July 22 to Thursday July 25.

Most of the local authorities across Wales, like Powys break up for the summer on Friday July 19.

But schools in five council areas don’t break up until Monday, July 22.

The Welsh Government proposal is to see the summer holiday reduced from six to four weeks, with longer half terms and a set date for spring holidays rather than moving around in line with Easter.

The government believes that children find going back to school after a long break to be difficult and much of the teaching at the start of term is to go over what has already been taught in the previous school year.

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