Plan to align Welsh holidays

Published:

Schools in Wales could soon be forced to take holidays at the same time, under new government proposals.

Education minister Leighton Andrews wants to place a legal duty on local authorities to agree school term dates on a national basis to ensure parents with links to more than one school have the same holidays as their children. 

Currently all 22 local authorities in Wales can set different term dates creating challenges for parents who work in one school while their children attend another, or families with children at different schools in neighbouring authorities.

Mr Andrews said: “Different term dates can cause problems for some families, including difficulties with finding childcare, as well as the challenge of meeting additional childcare costs.

“Taking this into account, my intention is to harmonise school term dates for all maintained schools in Wales, with variations occurring very occasionally and only where they can be fully justified.”

Currently local authorities set term dates for community, community special, voluntary controlled and nursery schools, while governing bodies do the same for voluntary aided and foundation schools.

There is no legal responsibility placed on either of these groups to work together to set term dates across Wales. And despite years of discussion, efforts by the Welsh Local Government Association to harmonise terms have been unsuccessful.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of teaching union ATL Cymru, welcomed the proposals which he hoped would address the “immense problems” for staff and children.

“There is often little reason why different dates are chosen by local authorities and it is obviously ludicrous that in a country as small as Wales there could potentially be up to 22 different dates,” he said.

Consultees include local and diocesan authorities, governing bodies of foundation and voluntary aided schools, children and young people and other interested parties. The consultation period ends in November 2012. 


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