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School summer holidays could be cut to four weeks

PEMBROKESHIRE councillors are to give their views on a consultation which could see the summer school holidays reduced to just four weeks, the first change to the school year in over 150 years.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s schools and learning overview and scrutiny committee, meeting on February 8, are asked to provide feedback and an official response to a Welsh Government consultation on potential reform of the school year.

It is also recommended that members’ views be used in an authority response on the wider public consultation by the council’s Director for Education, by the closure of the consultation on February 12.

A report for members states: “The school year in Wales has not changed for over 150 years. It was designed for a very different time, when going to school was voluntary, there was no national curriculum and children were expected to contribute to the agricultural economy during the long holidays.

“However, over recent years there have been many changes and improvements to education in Wales, such as a new curriculum, greater teacher professional learning, and new ways of supporting learners with Additional Learning Needs.

“Therefore, the Welsh Government has launched a public consultation to look at how the school year, terms, and holidays can work better for learners, school staff and parents.”

It stresses the consultation is not about reducing the number of holidays; a commitment has been made that the summer break will be at least four weeks.

It will also see no change to the number of hours, nor extending the school day.

A possible change in the consultation is reducing the summer break from six to four weeks; the remaining two weeks redistributed to other parts of the year.

Other potential changes include:

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  • A fixed Easter break of two weeks in early April, regardless of when Easter falls
  • Four terms of roughly equal length and breaks of one or two weeks between them
  • Aligning term dates across Wales, and possibly with other parts of the UK

The report for members concludes: “The reform of the school year in Wales is a complex and important issue that affects the quality and outcomes of education, as well as the wellbeing and lifestyles of learners, school staff, and parents.

“It provides an opportunity for members to provide their views on the consultation with the closing date of February 12.”

The Welsh Government aims to publish the results of the consultation and the proposed changes by the end of 2024.