Nottm Post: Terms and conditions still pending in school battle

From Nottingham Post

THE city council firmly believes changes are necessary to school terms to drive up standards.

But it has faced a major backlash from unions, teachers and parents over its five-term year plans. In spite of this, the authority has continued to insist this is the best way forward.

But today changes are announced to those plans.

The council has agreed to look at two models, one being the five-term year and the other similar to the current three-term structure, proposed by the City of Nottingham Governors’ Association.

It would see the six-week summer break cut to five weeks, a two-week holiday in October instead of the current one-week half-term and a fixed two-week holiday at the end of the spring term, regardless of when Easter falls.

The authority is seeking agreement with unions before consulting on the plans in September, with a final decision between the two models due to be made by the executive board in October.

However, reaching an agreement with unions may still prove tricky. The NASUWT is adamant it wants to have the six-week summer holiday maintained on the calendar, with members possibly prepared to take industrial action at the beginning of the next academic year.

Bernie Pardon, national executive member for the Nottingham branch of the union, said: “Our position remains the same. We are clear that the best option is to retain the three-term year as it stands, apart from having a fixed break at the end of the spring term.

“We want the six-week summer break retained as it provides a good chance for recuperation for our children.”

The National Union of Teachers has previously held strike action over the five-term plan. In a statement, it also insisted a six-week summer break was a must for children. It added that the council’s announcement was a sign that its protests were having an effect.

Union member Ian Stevenson believes the council’s announcement is a “step closer to a settlement”.

He said: “We still want to have a minimum six-week summer break, but this is certainly a positive move.

“We are in talks with the city council over the plans, and all strike action has been suspended while this takes place.”

Parents also claim children should have a six-week summer break and are concerned about a lack of correlation between city and county schools.

Liam Maloy, 41, of Sherwood, works as a music lecturer at New College Nottingham, while his wife Sarah is a teacher at Willow Farm Primary, Gedling. Their children, Ruby, nine, and Luca, six, attend Haydn Primary in Sherwood.

He said: “This doesn’t go far enough. I don’t see why they have to make these changes in the first place.”

Jane Graham, of Wollaton, whose five-year-old son Thomas goes to Fernwood Infant School, said: “This new model is preferable to the five-term year, but it is still far from ideal. There will still be a mis-match between the city and county schools, and I fear it could lead to the city losing some of the best teachers.”

The city council wants to bring in the term-time changes from September 2013.

Its number one proposal remains the five-term year but if it gains agreement from unions, it will consult on changing to the new model. However if there is no agreement it will revert to the five-term plan.

Today’s announcement follows a consultation.

Councillor David Mellen, city portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “We remain committed to changing school holiday patterns. The existing pattern is not suitable for children’s needs in the 21st century. We think in particular that the summer holiday is too long.”

The council believes a two-week break in October – replacing the one-week half-term – is necessary as children often feel tired because of changing daylight hours.

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About nasuwtnottingham

Union representing the majority of teachers in Nottingham
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