Stoke-on-Trent headteacher criticises proposals for five-term school year

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By Claire Houghton:  The headteacher of a school in Stoke-on-Trent has criticised the council’s plans to rethink term times.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is considering several options to overhaul the school year in attempt to reduce pupil absence and provide more affordable holidays for families.

One option being considered is to switch to a five-term year that would create a longer Christmas holiday and a shorter summer break.

St Joseph's College flag

St Joseph's College flag

However, Roisín Maguire, headteacher of St Joseph’s College in Trent Vale, does not believe the idea will tackle the issues – and admitted it could create more problems for the school to deal with.

“It won’t solve the problem because they [the holiday companies]will just look at when the schools are in and make their holidays cheaper in that time,” she said.

“We work at least four of those summer weeks because of getting everything ready, dealing with GCSE results and A-level results.

“We do coursework discussions with the year elevens going into sixth form, so actually, although people talk of it as a six week holiday, the senior leadership gets two weeks in the summer.”

The headteacher also emphasised the importance of a long break for GCSE and A-level students as many spend the summer on work experience or preparing practical coursework projects.

However, she accepts that for junior school children, a five-term system would put less of a strain on parents.

“The younger they are, the harder it is in those six weeks,” she said. “It must seem a very long time for a seven-year-old.”

The council’s consultation will begin on the January 16 and finish at the end of April.

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