Shorten our summer holidays and we’ll go on strike, warn teachers

Nottingham City Council meets tomorrow to consider cutting the summer holiday by six weeks to five

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The Independent Online

Teachers are warning of strike action if a city council goes ahead with a plan to cut their summer holidays by a week.

Nottingham City Council meets tomorrow to consider cutting the summer holiday by six weeks to five and instead introduce a two-week half-term break in October so teachers will return to their classrooms in the last week of August.

City councillors see the proposal as a compromise on earlier plans to introduce a new five-term year earlier this year and insist it will reduce the “learning loss” suffered by pupils during the long summer break  An academy in the city, Djanogly, which has already cut the summer break, has seen its GCSE results rise to record levels.

However, Ian Stevenson, regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the shake-up would give pupils in Nottingham “the shortest summer holidays anywhere outside of North Korea”.

He added that there was no evidence the move would improve education standards in the city and that it would just create difficulties for teachers who lived outside the city and whose children therefore had different holidays.

Earlier this year teachers staged three days of strikes over the plans but suspended their action for negotiations. A poll of members published yesterday showed 73 per cent were opposed to the new plan and 70 per cent would be prepared to take strike action over it.

A spokeswoman for the city council said most unions had agreed with the proposals as a result of consultation.

Teachers have traditionally fought hard to retain their summer holidays.  When local education authorities debated a plan to introduce a national five-term year with shorter summer holidays sa decade ago, the then general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers Nigel de Gruchy described the summer break as “the last perk of the teaching profession”.