School summer holidays should be shorter, new report recommends - we share what this could mean for the rest of the school year

School summer holidays could be cut from six to four weeks

Children in rucksacks running down a corridor
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A new report has recommended that the school summer holidays be cut to four weeks to improve pupil and teacher wellbeing, according to a new report. Here's everything you need to know...

The start of summer might seem like a long way off for most, but a new report from the Nuffield Foundation about the six-week summer holiday has got everyone talking about it. Though the research isn't due to be published in full until next month, we do know that it recommends the long holiday should be cut down to four weeks.

For some parents, this may come as welcome news. Finding childcare for the duration and thinking of things to do with kids that will keep them occupied for six weeks isn't easy. But for others who want to squeeze in a trip away, reducing that window might be inconvenient - especially given the fines for taking children out of school during term time.

However, the proposal doesn't mean that kids will get fewer holidays - the report also recommends that half-terms should be made longer, going from one to two weeks. This could help improve the wellbeing of children who attend as well as teaching staff who work at schools, according to the report.

It also outlines that one of the biggest concerns when it comes to the longer summer holidays is the impact on learning. Some pupils - in particular those from more disadvantaged backgrounds or those who have additional needs - may find it hard to get back into lessons after such a long break.

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The summary of the report says it is "time to consider reforms to a school calendar that has been stuck in place since Victorian times". Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter and one of the report’s authors, explained, "Spreading school holidays more evenly across the year makes complete educational sense: improving the wellbeing of pupils and the working lives of teachers at no extra cost, balancing out childcare costs for parents, and potentially boosting academic results for many children."

He added, "Reducing the summer holidays from six weeks to four weeks would still provide adequate time for teachers to recuperate, while two-week breaks during the February and October half-terms would give much-needed time off during the most gruelling parts of the academic year."

But this isn't the first time that changes in the school calendar have been proposed. In 2013, the then-education secretary, Michael Gove, said, "We can’t afford to have an education system that was essentially set in the 19th century."

Meanwhile, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Changing the length of the summer holiday is an idea that has been posited for many years and inevitably there are a range of different views.

"There is some evidence that suggests changes could be beneficial to pupils and parents, but other research has been far less conclusive. It's important that the impact of any changes are properly considered and must not be rushed into."

In other news, here's how many bank holidays there are in 2024 and how to make the most of them. And after revealing that kids cost an extra £1,000 a week in the school holidays, we shared seven expert tips to help make ends meet.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.