Today it was reported that Michael Gove announced that from September 2015, schools could be given the freedom to decide their own school holidays.
In principal, this is perhaps not such a daft idea.
In reality, this is likely to cause complete chaos to an awful lot of the population - be them parents or teachers, or [shock, horror] a teacher who is also a parent!
The 6 weeks holiday argument has raged for years and will keep going forever, I am sure. And I am both for and against the idea but, in my most humble opinion, the pros do outweigh the cons - and that's coming from someone who is already worrying about what to do with my job when my little boy starts school in 3 years time.
Let's say that everything goes ahead with Mr Gove's plan and schools decide to fix their own holidays. What could happen?
- two siblings at different schools with different holiday times. Neither will release the child for a family holiday in term time. So parents could now be restricted to only 2 or 3 weeks in the summer when they could take their holiday. Boo hoo you might say, but how flexible is YOUR office/workplace with holidays? 'Not very' is usually the answer. So, what happens when a large percentage of your workforce needs the same 2 or 3 weeks off in the summer? Think about places like supermarkets and other retail stores - where the majority of their staff are part-time and have a family. How will that work?
- holiday companies currently like to inflate their rates from mid-July to early September. But what if summer breaks started earlier at some schools and ended later in others? HOORAY and KERRRR-CHINGG! for the tourism industry. They can now over-inflate their prices for maybe 10 weeks rather than the paltry 6 . Think about it...all those smug, childless couples (of which I was one for years) and pensioners will also now have to pay a small fortune to sit on an overcrowded beach surrounded by kiddiwinkies too if they dare to want a holiday between June and October!
- then there is the childcare issue. Yes, it is everybody's individual choice to have a child. So it is everyone's individual responsibility to arrange and pay for our of school childcare. Fine when everyone has the same holiday time - give or take a few days - and holiday clubs can run and childminders know when they have spaces. But what happens when this period is extended by a couple of weeks at either end? This will affect the premises they can rent for their clubs - most use school facilities. The infrastructure has been in place, and building, for a number of years to help families during the school holidays and now Mr Gove would like to make it more difficult yet again.
- I thought this government wanted to get people back to work wherever possible? They are already losing out on millions of women's earning potential because of childcare restrictions So why are they now trying to make it even more difficult? This could actually force one parent out of the workforce.
- Teachers who are parents. Where does this leave them? Their school closes at a different time to their offspring's. Will the government suddenly give them the flexibility to take their holiday during termtime to cover it? Nope, thought not.
And that is not even getting into the 'touchy feely' list of reasons why the straight 6 week holiday should stay.
Children should be allowed to be children for at least a few years. Society has been trying to make children grow older beyond their years for a while now and it's ridiculous. Children need to play in order to grow and learn. Trying to turn us all into Tiger Mums and making them sit in a regimented fashion and learn for longer hours will not produce a balanced cross section of society.
And teachers. What about them? Most of my teaching friends spend evenings planning lessons and marking work and writing reports and making wallcharts and decorating their classrooms and trying to meet government targets and.. and... and... the list goes on. yes, they may well finish teaching at 3.30pm but they don't just 'clock off'. And they can't just 'chuck a sickie' when they feel like it. Or bugger off for a long weekend if they feel like it - unlike a lot of the population.
Most of my friends are usually back in the classroom in the final week of the summer holidays making the necessary preparations for the new term. A lot of them spend the first week of the holidays in the classroom too - taking down the decorations and work displays.
Mr Gove probably went to a private school like a lot of his government peers and actually I don't have an issue with that. Each to their own, live and let live and all that. Personally, I would rather have educated people leading the country rather than a white-van-man with a CSE* in Technical Drawing trying to decide economic policy. What I object to, are these educated people not having a sense of perspective; not having any idea of how most of the population have to live. That's what irks me.
[*showing my age here. Most people reading this probably won't have a clue what a CSE is and think I have just made a typing error]
For someone who usually does vote Tory (don't hate me, please!) I am hoping that either Gove gets ousted in favour of someone a little more savvy, or that the opposition gets in and cancels these plans. I won't hold my breath though, so far the Labour party haven't shown any signs of withdrawing most of the Tory plans and cuts.
- A first time mum at 39, trying not to let my son kill me off too soon. Busy juggling a new family, a new house and a tricky recording schedule I figured blogging would be less expensive than therapy and less embarrassing than shouting at rude and stupid people in the street/on trains/at the supermarket.