Green light for controversial plan to cut summer holidays in Nottingham schools
CONTROVERSIAL plans to change school term times in Nottingham have been rubber stamped.
Councillors on the city council's executive board yesterday agreed to cut the summer holiday from six to five weeks from September next year.
The changes will also see a two-week break introduced in October and a fixed break in the spring term.
The decision was made in spite of the National Union of Teachers warning its members were prepared to take strike action if it went ahead.
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At yesterday's meeting, Councillor David Mellen, portfolio holder for children's services at the city council, said: "One of the most important things we do in the council is make it possible for the city's children to maximise their achievements.
"Research has told us that the six-week summer holiday can be a difficulty from some children.
"My experience as a head teacher in the city has shown me that where there is not a lot of money in a family to go on holidays or trips, at the end of the summer holiday children may not be in the same place with their learning in September as they were in July."
The council had originally planned to introduce a five-term year, but this caused uproar among teaching unions and many parents, with strike action being taken earlier this year.
Instead the new model was brought in, but it has still courted controversy.
The National Union of Teachers on Monday revealed a survey of members in the city showed nearly 70 per cent of them were prepared to strike if the move went ahead.
Unions have expressed concerns because the county council has decided to stick with the traditional term pattern – meaning parents who have a child in a city school and one in a county school will face childcare chaos.
There are also teachers who work in the city with children at county schools, and vice versa.
David Graham, of Wollaton, whose five-year-old son Thomas goes to Fernwood Infant School, said he was concerned about the decision.
He said: "I think the Nottingham model is far from ideal. I don't think it has been thought out properly and I am very concerned that the NUT will be considering strike action again over it."
Sarah Maloy, 41, of Sherwood, has two children, Ruby, nine, and Luca, seven, who attend Haydn Primary in Sherwood.
She said: "I feel unhappy about this change. It will affect us significantly as a family, because my husband works in higher education so the children will see less of him over the summer.
"I even moved jobs from a school in the county to one in the city so that I could spend more time with the children if it went ahead.
"There are a lot of issues surrounding childcare, and the county term times not matching the city's, which I think will be really chaotic."
Some city head teachers have also expressed concern.
Jo Bradley, of Blue Bell Hill School in St Ann's, said: "I don't believe this is based on sound research.
"I have had concerns from parents about it. For example, they wonder what they can do with their children during a two-week break in October when it gets dark earlier."