Hey, Michael Gove – leave those kids’ summer holidays alone

Gove’s reasoning is that the long summer break is a relic of the 19th century when children were needed at home to pick potatoes and such like

Share

It’s good to see that Michael Gove has been industrious over his 20-day Easter break.

No sleeping till noon and lolling on the sofa with the Xbox. Fuelled by spring lamb and Lindt bunnies, he skipped back to work this week with a new project on the subject of hours, and how pupils and teachers are not putting in enough of them. School holidays are too long he says, and the school day is too short.

Gove’s reasoning is that the long summer break is a relic of the 19th century when children were needed at home to pick potatoes and such like. Now, with farming all but wiped out, and mothers out at work, earning cash to pay for those crippling university tuition fees, the school timetable is no longer family friendly or “consistent with the pressures of modern society”.

Undeniably there will be parents – working and non-working – who will greet this idea with joy. The prospect of six long weeks of housebound children can be slightly horrifying. But Gove is less bothered by harried parents, it seems, than he is by the “global race” to academic supremacy. “If you look at the length of the school day in England, the length of the summer holiday, then we are running in this global race in a way that ensures we start with a significant handicap,” he said.

Hear hear, Gradgrind. Why give children any holidays at all? A bare minimum four weeks off a year is far better preparation for a lifetime of working until they are 70, isn’t it? Well, no. There is little proof that cramming makes for cleverer pupils. And a long break in the summer is not just a throwback to picking potatoes, it’s about changing seasons and giving children time to grow in the great outdoors.

Long summer holidays engender skills that can’t be taught from the blackboard or measured by Sats scores. They are about learning to climb trees, and to get on with your siblings. There is more to life than sitting at a desk and striving to win the global race – which is presumably why Gove and his fellow MPs will enjoy their seven-week recess as normal this summer.

Adele's right, she needs life experience

Good old Adele. The soul singer has reportedly turned down a seven-figure deal from Harper Collins to write her autobiography. In her 24 years, she has accrued one Oscar, two mega-hit albums, four Brit Awards, nine Grammies, a personal fortune of £30million and 1.46million clicks for “Someone Like You”, making it the most downloaded song ever. Nevertheless, she has said that she would like to gather a little more life experience before writing it all down.

She is quite right – 24 is far too young to start looking back, although that hasn’t stopped the likes of Katie Price (34, four autobiographies), Wayne Rooney (27, three volumes), and Justin Bieber (19, two down, many more to come). The world certainly doesn’t need another stocking filler with an airbrushed glossy cover and a punny title (“Someone Like Me”, maybe?). And you might argue that Adele has already done her fair share of sharing on her two lovelorn albums 19 and 21.

There is also the small matter that last year, when she was essentially on maternity leave, Adele earned £41,000 a day in royalties etc. So perhaps the usual motivation for putting pen to paper – turning a fast buck – doesn’t apply.

Twitter: @alicevjones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone