Education, Learning & Leisure Consultation on the Pattern of School Holidays in Aberdeenshire Schools (from session 2010/11) Background 1. The current pattern of school holidays was approved by the (then) Education and Recreation Committee in 2005, following on from earlier consultation exercises. 2. The current pattern of school holidays includes the following “design criteria”: Based on 195 day school year, which includes 5 In-Service closure days 6 week summer holidays 2 week October break, Christmas break and Easter break Attempt to avoid “broken weeks” e.g. term finishing on Wednesday and new term re-starting on Thursday Articulation, where possible, with neighbouring authorities. Attempt to achieve a broad balance between the 4 terms Incorporation of May bank holiday as a holiday for all establishments 3. In February 2005, the E&R Committee approved a schedule of school holidays for session 2006/07 to 2009/10. Given that we are now well through the penultimate session of this period, it is now appropriate to conduct a consultation on whether the above design criteria remain appropriate, prior to finalising a detailed schedule of school holiday dates for session 2010/11 and thereafter. 4. Accordingly, a number of consultation questions have been drawn up, about which the views of stakeholders are now sought. The consultation questions are provided overleaf. 5. Attached to the consultation questions are a set of exemplar holiday and term dates for sessions 2010/11 to 2014/15, drawn up based on the proposals set out in the consultations. These are for illustrative purposes only, with the aim of assisting stakeholders in their discussions about the proposals. 6. The views expressed by stakeholders in this consultation will be taken into account in proposals for the pattern of school holidays as from session 2010/11, which will be considered by the Education, Learning & Leisure committee in May. Consultation questions 1. The current arrangement of a two week October holiday should be retained. Rationale/Discussion The last time that this question was raised in a consultation exercise there was “overwhelming support” for the two week October break. Agree Disagree Comments 2. The current arrangement of a six week summer holiday should be retained. (with there being a need for a seven week break every four/five years to ensure that the start date of the new session in August does not creep back into the second week of August.) Rationale/Discussion As above Agree Disagree Comments Consultation questions 3. It is proposed that the period of the holiday around Easter should become “fixed” at the first two full working weeks of April, rather than varying in line with the timing of the Easter weekend. Rationale/Discussion This will prevent the holiday falling either on the third week of March, or late in April, which can cause significant disruption to secondary schools’ preparations for the SQA examination diet. Of course, it will also mean that, on occasion, the Easter weekend will become “detached” from the two week holiday break. (To provide some kind of context, this would occur three times in the 10 year period from 2011 to 2020). Agree Disagree Comments Consultation questions 4. The arrangements whereby Aberdeenshire seeks, as far as is possible, consistent with other school holiday design criteria, to align its school pattern with neighbouring authorities should continue. Rationale/Discussion Many parents/carers and partners of Aberdeenshire employees live in Aberdeenshire but work in neighbouring authorities. There is therefore an argument for aligning, as far as possible, the pattern of holidays in Aberdeenshire with those in Aberdeen City, Moray and Angus councils. Agree Disagree Comments Consultation questions 5. The arrangement, introduced for the first time in session 2008/09 to “block” the “authority” and “school” in service days together as two consecutive days (one pair in November and one pair in February) should be continued. Rationale/Discussion The current arrangement was introduced in 2008/09 to make the best use of “authority” led in service day provision by placing a “school based” in service day immediately adjacent to it. Agree Disagree Comments Consultation questions 7. The Scottish government announced in January 2009 that there will be an additional in-service day during sessions 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11. The views of stakeholders is sought on then placing of this additional day for session 2010/11 Rationale/Discussion Options include placing the day adjacent to the May holiday (as in 2008/09), or finding an alternative date in term 4, after the SQA exams. (A separate consultation recently took place regarding the placing of an additional in-service day during session 2008/09) Please tick the most favoured option: Place adjacent to Add to term 4 after SQA diet May public Holiday At another time (please provide details below) Comments/Suggestions Consultation questions 8a. There should be consistency in the timing of “occasional” holiday dates across a cluster, and, where possible, greater consistency across Aberdeenshire. Rationale/Discussion At present there is a degree of inconsistency in the placing of occasional days across Aberdeenshire, which can cause difficulties in making childcare (and other) arrangements for some parents/carers and employees. Whilst there is a responsibility for the local authority to consult appropriate parents representative bodies in determining when occasional holidays take place, there was also strong support from all stakeholders in the recent 3-18 Curriculum Framework for the notion that we should encourage collaborative working between schools, which is facilitated by having a greater degree of alignment in the determination of holiday patterns, including occasional days. Agree Disagree Comments Consultation questions 8b. A new holiday, which all schools would take, should be introduced on, or around, St Andrew’s day each year. This would be achieved by reducing by one the number of occasional days available to be determined locally each year Rationale/Discussion In 2007, the Scottish parliament passed the St Andrew’s Holiday (Scotland) Act, which signalled the Parliament’s wish to see a greater celebration of St Andrew’s day, including the possibility that it become a holiday. The act encouraged local authorities to include discussions about St Andrew’s Day as part of any local consultations when setting the future dates of local holidays. An opportunity now exists to meet this aspiration of the Parliament (recently reiterated in a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to local authority Education Conveners) and at the same time achieve greater consistency in the placing of occasional holiday dates across Aberdeenshire. Agree Disagree Comments Consultation questions How to submit a response A response can be submitted in three ways: 1. By completing a paper copy of this document and posting it to: The Education Development Team Aberdeenshire Council Woodhill House Westburn Road ABERDEEN AB16 5GB If using this method please complete and submit a copy of the “Details of Respondent” form overleaf. 2. By completing an electronic copy of this document and emailing it to: email@example.com If using this method please complete and submit a copy of the “Respondent information” form overleaf as part of the electronic submission. 3. By completing an online version of the questionnaire. To respond using this method, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org making this request and providing: a. The name of the respondent/group. b. Whether or not the respondent is responding individually or representing a group (which should be reflected in the name). c. An email address to which a link to the online survey form can be sent. We will send a link to the online survey to the designated email address. By clicking on this link, you will be able to access the online survey form, complete the response and submit it electronically. In all three cases, the completed submission should reach us no later than Friday 1 May 2009. Consultation questions Respondent Information Form 1. Name/Organisation Organisation name or Surname Forename The information and views expressed in submissions under this consultation exercise will be used by the Education, Learning & Leisure service for the sole for the purpose of informing policy and decision making in relation to the issues which fall within the scope of the consultation exercise. Other than aggregated summaries of responses in relation to the particular consultation questions, the views expressed by individuals or organisations in submissions as part of this consultation exercise will not be disclosed to any individual or third party outwith Aberdeenshire Council.