John Rentoul: A shorter summer holiday <u>is not</u> a good idea

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The Independent Online

Could there be anything more joyless than the persistent mutterings about shorter summer school holidays? Do people not understand article 67 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right of children to a childhood, including at least eight weeks of holiday with compulsory sunshine?

And on what miserable considerations are such arguments based? Pupils forget stuff over the summer, it is said. Precisely. That's what holidays are for. It's worse than that, they say. Pupils go backwards. At this point we are supposed to sign a petition to Michael Gove. We should in fact recoil in horror at the lack of imagination of those measuring things and wondering why they don't grow.

Then there is the childcare argument. But if there is not a reduction in the number of holidays, why should it be easier if they are spread more evenly around the year?

No, this is a spiteful attempt to stop children enjoying themselves and keep their eyes on the whiteboard for the sake of a Victorian notion of national productivity. Keep summer special.

The author is a father of three and the chief political commentator at 'The Independent on Sunday'