4 January 2016

City Council to consider changing school holidays

Cheaper term-time holidays could become possible under a proposal being looked at by Brighton & Hove City Council.

At a meeting on Monday 11 January the council’s children, young people and skills committee will consider whether to discuss with the city’s schools options that could include:

  • coordinating inset days into a block to create a long weekend or even a full week’s break at a time when holidays are less expensive;
  • creating an additional ‘stand-alone’ week’s holiday at a time when holidays are less expensive, possibly by reducing the current six-week summer holiday.

If councillors agree to explore options, detailed proposals would be brought back to a future committee for discussion before going out for further consultation with parents, carers and schools.

Committee chair Councillor Tom Bewick said: “If there is something we can do to offer lower-income families in particular the chance to take holidays that would otherwise be unaffordable then I think it’s worth exploring.

“Being able to take a cheap family holiday in March, for example, would make a huge difference to thousands of local people – including of course our teachers.

“The long summer holiday goes back to the nineteenth century when children helped bring in the harvest. It’s time to take a fresh look at this and try and find a consensus for what works best for families in the twenty-first century.

“I often hear people saying the six-week summer holiday is too long and also that the autumn term is too long. Creating an extra week’s holiday in October or November, for example, might be a way of addressing both these issues.

“If the initial reaction to a change in the holiday pattern is positive we will develop a detailed proposal which we will then formally consult on. I will be very interested to hear schools, parents and children’s views on this issue.”

Individual schools make their own decisions about when they take their inset days. The council has no powers to tell schools to take them at particular times, but it currently asks them to use the first day of each term as an inset day. Term and holiday dates set by the council have to be followed by all the city’s community schools. The city’s academies and voluntary-aided faith schools are not obliged to follow these dates, but all of them currently do so. Term time dates are usually set between 12 and 18 months in advance. Anything that might be agreed through new proposals would not come into effect until the academic year 2017-18.

More information

Read the reports for the children, young people and skills committee (The alignment of INSET days and pattern of school holidays report is agenda item no. 56)