School summer holidays may be cut

Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire have become the latest authorities to consider radical plans to reduce the long summer school holiday.

Under changes the traditional break could be slashed from six to just four weeks in both primaries and secondaries. It follows the decision of Nottingham City Council to consult on spreading out its holidays more evenly across the school year from September 2012.

Critics of the present system argue that it is a hangover from an agrarian past when children were required to work in the fields and assist with harvests.

Research has also highlighted the so-called summer learning loss in which pupils struggle to concentrate after six weeks off. A study of American students by the RAND Corporation found they lost one month per year in both maths and English.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has already signaled that flagship academies and newly-established free schools would be able to change the calendar to promote more effective learning. East Riding branch secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers John Killeen, said there was support for the changes which would come into effect in 2013/14 at the earliest.

"We would be open to a reduction in the summer holiday and the equalisation of the teaching periods throughout the year and the possibility of different lengths of half-term holidays. But the important message for parents is there would still be the same number of teaching days," he said.