School term date shake-up agreed

EDUCATION chiefs in Suffolk have decided to snub the Government's plans to introduce standardised school term dates nationwide.The county will now follow a break-away eastern region plan for the 2007-8 academic year because the Local Government Association (LGA) proposals detach Easter from the school holidays.

By Jonathan Barnes

EDUCATION chiefs in Suffolk have decided to snub the Government's plans to introduce standardised school term dates nationwide.

The county will now follow a break-away eastern region plan for the 2007-8 academic year because the Local Government Association (LGA) proposals detach Easter from the school holidays.

Cabinet members on Suffolk County Council decided yesterdaythat because Easter falls exceptionally early in 2008, the eastern plan was more workable than the LGA's proposal to impose more standardised term lengths.


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The spring holiday in 2008 will now run from March 21 to April 4, rather than the LGA's suggestion of April 7 to April 18.

Under the LGA plan, youngsters would have March 21 and 24 off for Easter - followed by a two-week break later.

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Education officers at the council fear this could lead to children missing out on schooling if parents take them away for the Easter period.

The eastern region plan, proposed by the Eastern Region Term Dates Group, has support from the Church of England diocese and the National Union of Teachers.

Jane Storey, cabinet member, said: “I'm very supportive of the eastern regional alternative. As a Christian country we should adapt the four main breaks we have around religious festivals and I do believe most people accept that.”

Cabinet members said they were keen the term dates were in line with neighbouring counties, but so far there has been little consensus.

Cambridgeshire is favouring the eastern region plan, but Essex is backing the LGA proposals. Norfolk is undecided so far.

Some members expressed concerns that the summer term begins on June 2, 2008, which is likely to clash with the Suffolk Show, traditionally held in the first week of June.

But Jeremy Pembroke, county council leader, said he believed it should be left to the “good sense” of headteachers to decide whether pupils should be allowed time off school to go to the county show.

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