If the three-term school year aint broke, then dont fix it, say unions

11 May 00
Leaders of teaching unions voiced their scepticism about proposals to abandon the three-term school year at a hearing of the commission set up to examine the issue.

12 May 2000

NUT leader Doug McEvoy argued that the eight-strong Local Government Association commission had to prove that change was needed before focusing on how the moves to a five- or six-term year should be managed.

'It's incumbent on the LGA to show whether, educationally, there are grounds for change,' he said. 'There is no desire for change from the teaching profession.'

Supporters say that having an increased number of shorter terms and more evenly spread holidays would improve academic standards, since they would be less tiring for staff and pupils than the current three-month term.

But McEvoy sounded a warning that his members would oppose any change unless teachers' current employment conditions were guaranteed.

'You would have to convince us that, in general, teachers would not be adversely affected by the change,' he said.

Eamonn O'Kane, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, expressed concern that shortening the traditional summer break would make teaching even less attractive to new recruits.'If we are going to attract people into the profession, why are we going to set about undermining the one thing teachers see as unequivocally good?' he asked.

The commission, which is chaired by Christopher Price, the former Conservative MP and now principal of Leeds Metropolitan University, is due to report in July.

Price said he was confident that the organisations involved could reach a consensus.

'The sessions have been very good. We have a far more complex body of evidence than we could have believed when we began,' he added.


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