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									                            (Executive Board – 31 March 2004)



Somerset County Council

Executive Board – 31 March 2004                                        Item No. 11
SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS – 2005/06
Executive Portfolio Holder:       Pauline Clarke, Lifelong Learning
Division and Local Member:        All
Lead Officer:                     Fiona Catcher, Assistant Director – Lifelong Learning
Author:                           Fiona Catcher, Assistant Director – Lifelong Learning
Contact Details:                  fjcatcher@somerset.gov.uk or (01823) 356884


1.     Summary

1.1    This paper sets out the background to proposed changes to the pattern of the
       school year. Members are asked to agree the school terms and holidays for
       2005/06 and confirm the LEA’s policy on the setting of school in-service training
       (INSET).


2.     Recommendation(s)
2.1    The Executive Board is recommended to:

           1)     adopt the principle of a two week Autumn break;
           2)     agree the attached calendar of School Terms and Holiday dates for
                  2005/06 as set out in the appendix;
           3)     devolve full responsibility to schools for the setting of INSET.


3.     Background
3.1    In 1999, a widespread consultation exercise was undertaken to explore what
       learning might look like in the 21st Century. Eight key ideas emerged from this
       consultation. These were published in ‘Learning in Somerset: Looking Forward
       2000-2020’. One of these ideas centred on the need to review the pattern of the
       school year. This was supported by 63% of respondents.

3.2    In 2002, the LEA consulted Headteachers, school staff, governors, parents (20%
       sample), Professional Teaching Associations, UNISON, Diocese, Elected
       Members, and the general community on the principles for determining school
       terms and holidays set out in the Local Government Association (LGA)
       Independent Commission Report - The ‘Rhythm and pattern of Schooling’.
       Whilst this Report did not propose the radical review of the School Year
       envisaged in 3.1, it was felt to be a helpful starting point. The principles
       underpinning the LGA’s proposals were:




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                    6 terms
                    190 calendared days
                    2 terms before Christmas with no term of more than 38 days
                    a 2 week October break to reduce pupil and teacher stress
                    a Christmas break which is never less than 2 weeks
                    the 4 terms after Christmas limited to a maximum of 6 weeks
                    a summer break which is not less than 5 weeks
                    the April holiday set irrespective of Easter.

3.3   Of the 2,840 responses received, 76% were in favour of a school year based on
      the above principles. The Executive Board considered the outcome of the
      consultations and agreed, in principle, to adopt a 6 Term Year from September
      2004. At the time, this was subject to regional agreement with neighbouring
      authorities as we were intending to move forward in advance of a national
      directive.

3.4   Agreement was duly reached with seven other South West LEAs to implement a
      transitional calendar for 2003/04. Achieving the pattern of terms and holidays
      based on the LGA proposals was never going to be implemented in a single
      year, and it was accepted that a transitional calendar for 2004/05 would be
      necessary to move us towards the full LGA proposals.

3.5   The LGA has now issued a proposed Standard School Year Calendar for
      2005/06 (i.e a renaming of the Six Term Year) and is seeking implementation
      across all LEAs. The principles on which these proposals are based vary slightly
      from the above original principles in the following respects:
                  6 terms of the same consistent length from year to year,
                  a lengthened October break to reduce pupil and teacher stress,
                                                                                     st
                  school year to start as soon as possible on or after 1
                    September.

3.6   We now need to determine the School Terms and Holiday dates for 2005/06.
      This also provides an opportunity to make a firm policy statement on the LEA’s
      INSET policy. A small group comprising officers, Headteacher representatives,
      and Teacher Associations has been engaged in considering the options.

4.    Designation of the School Year

4.1   The legal requirement is for pupils to be at school for 190 days per year. In
      addition, teachers are expected to undertake 5 days (or the equivalent number of
      hours, including the use of twilight time) of in-service training (originally known as
      Baker days, introduced when Kenneth Baker was Secretary of State). This makes a
      nominal school year of 195 days.

4.2   Traditionally Somerset has set a calendar of 195 days within which schools are
      required to identify the 5 days on which it will close to pupils for teachers to
      undertake INSET. A 195 day calendar creates part weeks which, whilst of use to
      schools in setting INSET days, raises some concern about increased pupil
      absenteeism.

4.3   The LGA proposals are based upon a calendar of 190 school days, which requires
      schools to identify additional time outside of the calendar for the completion of
      teacher’s in-service obligations.

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4.4   In considering the proposed dates for 2005/06, we are aware that a number of
      other South West LEAs are considering retention of the current 195 day
      Calendar for 2005/06 in preference to the LGA 190 day Calendar.

4.5   Bearing in mind the principles reflected in para 3.2 &3.5, the 190 day calendar is
      considered more suitable than the 195 day calendar because it enables:
                 a two week Autumn break without compromising any of the LGA
                  principles;
                 less part weeks, reducing concerns about pupil absenteeism; and
                 financial savings.

4.6   It is also noted that the Secretary of State for Education has written to all LEAs
      urging them to adopt the LGA’s School Year principles for 2005/06. The
      recommendations contained in this paper do not compromise any of the LGA’s
      core principles.

5.    Two Week Autumn Break

5.1   Whilst the amended LGA principles do not preclude a two week break in the
      Autumn Term, disappointment was expressed by schools that the proposed
      calendar for 2005/06 did not provide the expected two week break. It was felt
      that this was necessary to reduce teacher and pupil stress arising from the
      number of school days between September and Christmas. A number of
      schools have chosen to use 3 INSET days in October 2004, in order to extend
      this break to two weeks, in the expectation that this would be a feature of
      subsequent calendars.

5.2   It is not possible, within a calendar of 195 days, to achieve a two week Autumn
      Term break without having more than 38 days without any break. (see LGA
      principles para 3.2 above). A two week Autumn break would give schools
      additional flexibility to use a full INSET day during that time as opposed to
      twilight hours.

5.3   Given the strength of feeling about the 2 week Autumn break expressed by
      some heads, particularly the secondary sector, it was felt important to gain a
      wider view on this issue across the school workforce and across all sectors.
      (para. 7 below refers)

6.    INSET

6.1   LEAs are free to delegate the specification of some or all of the 5 INSET days to
      Headteachers. INSET days can be delivered either as full days, or as
      aggregated twilight hours, or a mix of the two. Using a 190 day calendar, INSET
      days will have to be taken outside of published term dates from September 2005
      (unless taken when the school closes for use as a Polling Station), but twilight
      hours can be structured across both term dates and holiday dates.

6.2   During the consultations in 2002, some reservations were expressed by schools
      about the implications of setting INSET outside of the published school dates. It
      was felt that this might limit the options for setting full INSET days, and also limit
      the availability of INSET providers.


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6.3   In the earlier wider consultation, there was strong support for the LGA proposed
      changes based on a 190 day calendar, particularly from parents and child care
      providers. It was felt that the reservations expressed about INSET should not
      overshadow the otherwise positive support for the wider changes.

6.4   It is proposed that the LEA does not prescribe when schools should take INSET
      days or to suggest any balance between INSET days and INSET twilight hours.
      It is felt that such decisions should be managed at a local school level, and/or
      between partnerships of schools. This would be in line with current practice.



7.    Outcome of Consultations on LEA Proposals for 2005/06

7.1   Further consultation with schools has taken place for a 2 week period during
      March 2004. Headteachers were asked to canvass the views of the school
      workforce and to make a summary response on 2 issues:
                 the principle of adopting a two week Autumn break;
                 delegating the responsibility for setting all INSET days to
                 headteachers

      A total of 109 schools (40%) responded:

7.2   The majority of the schools that responded (60%) agreed that the principle of a
      two week break in October should be adopted. (30% disagreed. 10% recorded
      no firm view).

7.3   The majority of the schools that responded (92%) agreed that the LEA should
      formally delegate the responsibility for setting all INSET dates to headteachers.
      (4% disagreed. 4% recorded no firm view.)

7.4   As is our practice, Teachers Associations have also been consulted on the
      proposed dates for 2005/06. The LGA proposals are reasonably close to the
      current pattern for the school year in respect of a 6 week summer break and 2
      week break at Christmas and Easter. The NUT, ATL and NASUWT do not
      favour any variation from the nationally agreed LGA proposals on the basis that
      this would move us away from this established pattern, and not achieve
      alignment with other LEAs.


8.    Personnel Implications
8.1   None


9.    Financial Implications
9.1   Limited savings are achieved on school transport when individual schools close
      for INSET because transport routes serve a number of schools. Moving to a
      190 day calendar would realise potential full year savings of up to £185,000 as
      all schools would be closed on the same day.



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10.    Legal Implications
10.1   None


11.    Background Papers
11.1   None


Note For sight of individual background papers please contact the report author.


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