Unity Schools Partnership with schools in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket and Sudbury, launches more consultation on extended October half-term break
An education trust with around 30 Suffolk schools is asking for views on whether or not to continue with a two-week October half-term break.
Unity Schools Partnership has today launched a second round of consultation asking all staff and parents/carers for their comments on an extended autumn half-term break.
Last year, schools throughout the trust trialled a two-week half term in October after an overall majority of respondents from the first consultation agreed with the proposal.
The plan was met with mixed views from parents, with childcare and the impact on children’s education among key concerns.
A second consultation process has now begun with staff and parents across every school encouraged to take part and let the trust know what they thought about the two-week half term.
A spokesman for the trust said consultation will run for four weeks with the comments used to decide whether the two-week half term in October will become a permanent fixture in the school calendar.
Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership, said: “Firstly, we would like to thank every person who took part in the first consultation and have given us their feedback and comments since we trialled the initial two-week half term in October.
“As promised, we are now launching a second consultation to gauge people’s thoughts and opinions.
“We would encourage every staff member and parents across all our schools to take part to give us the best overall picture before a final decision is made.”
However, a letter from Ang Morrison, headteacher at Abbots Green Academy, in Bury St Edmunds, to parents/carers said: “Moving forwards, it would be my expectation to maintain our revised end time, but also consider how we can ensure that we support our families with further provision during the proposed two-week break.”
She said they knew that childcare was a ‘significant issue’ for families who were concerned about the two-week break.
“We had a number of children attend the additional provision we arranged and would look to extend this over the two-week break,” she added.
The letter also said there had been ‘significantly less’ staff absence due to illness during November and December than the previous year and they knew many families were able to take holidays or extended breaks during the two-week October half term last year.
In March last year, the two-week autumn half term break was originally proposed by the trust to combat two issues affecting the education sector:
- High absence rates of staff and pupils during the autumn term;
- Recruitment challenges for both teaching and classroom support staff. Currently, recruitment is difficult across all sectors, particularly the public sector. The trust is looking to both retain its current, excellent staff and recruit the very best staff when vacancies arise.
Each school considered ways they could adjust the timetable over the rest of the year to ensure that no learning time was lost for pupils and decided on plans that best suited their school.
This week, each school within the trust is writing to their staff and parents to promote the consultation period and to ask them to share their views via a school-specific online survey.
A decision is expected to be made on Friday, February 16.