School summer holidays could be shortened and autumn half-term extended under new plans
School summer holidays in Wales could be reduced to five weeks as part of new plans unveiled by the Welsh Government.
Today (21 November) a public consultation on changing the school calendar will launch in Wales.
The proposals include a two-week half term in the autumn and a later finish for the summer term.
According to the Welsh Government the number of days of school holidays and teaching days will not change.
Instead a week would be taken from the start of the summer break and added to the October break, so that staff and learners get more time to rest during the long autumn term.
The Welsh Government say that research has shown that the autumn term in particular is “tiring and challenging for learners and staff, as more teaching is squeezed into this term than any other.”
Some pupils, especially those from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and those with Additional Learning Needs (ALN), find it difficult to get back to learning after long summer breaks.
Because the summer break is long, time in the autumn term has to be devoted to going over things rather than advancing learning. Teachers also report more behavioural and well-being issues after the summer break.
These changes would be made from September 2025, meaning schools would get a two-week break in October 2025 and a five-week summer break in 2026.
The consultation will also explore additional changes that could be taken forward in the future, but not from 2025.
This would include shortening the summer holidays to four weeks, with one of the weeks being added to the Whitsun break.
According to the Welsh Government this would help make terms similar lengths and make the summer term more consistent, making it easier for pupils to learn and teachers to plan.
In this case, GCSE and A Level results days could happen in the same week. This will be explored over the coming years on the same timeframe as the roll out of our Made-for-Wales qualifications.
The proposal would also make the spring term more even and easier to plan for. The two-week break in the spring always coincides with Easter, which moves around.
Keeping the spring break at a constant midpoint and separating it from Easter would make the term more consistent.
Easter Monday and Good Friday public holidays would still apply, teaching time for these days would be made up elsewhere in the year.
Looking at different school term dates is part of the Co-Operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh language said: “The long summer break can be a real strain. Families struggle to find childcare over the six weeks, and others struggle with the additional costs long summers bring. We also know our most disadvantaged learners suffer the most ‘learning loss’ from a long summer.
“There are plenty of examples of local authorities across the UK changing their school calendar to suit local needs.
“We want to make sure education works best for pupils, teachers, and families. We’re looking for people’s views on these changes and what it would mean for them.”
Designated Member Sian Gwenllian said: “The current school calendar was designed a long time ago, under very different circumstances and we are suggesting changes that could work better for everyone, but most importantly for pupils of all ages.
“Many children and young people, especially those with additional learning needs and those from lower income families find the break very long, impacting negatively on their wellbeing and education.
“These proposals address that while still allowing the same amount of holidays throughout the year including a substantial summer holiday whilst also providing a longer break during the Autumn half term.”
Jason Elsom, the Chief Executive of Parentkind, said: “Our recent poll of 6,800 parents in Wales revealed that the majority of parents support a move to spread school holidays more evenly across the year, with 72% of lower income families in favour.
“It is fair to say that the current concentration of school holidays in the summer months results in inflated childcare and family holiday costs, compounding the challenges faced during the cost-of-living crisis.
“Most importantly this impacts the life experiences and chances of the most vulnerable of children. We are pleased to see this consultation by the Welsh Government.”
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