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Council plans move to five-term school year

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Nottingham City Council has unveiled plans to radically alter its local education calendar in a bid to improve results among pupils.

Other local authorities, including Nottingham CC, are understood to also be examining the potential to shake up the traditional three-term academic year, but have yet to formally consult parents and pupils.

Nottingham’s plans would see a shift to a five-term school year, with the introduction of eight-week terms separated by two-week holidays except for a four-week summer holiday. The changes would not take effect until September 2013 and would not reduce the number of holiday days pupils received.

The council said that a five-term model was believed to reduce children’s “learning loss” over the summer holidays, particularly in less-affluent areas.  

Members of the Nottingham’s executive are due to give a decision on the proposals next week.

Children’s services lead David Mellen (Lab) said the council’s consultation had shown 58% of parents were in favour of the plan, and only marginally fewer residents as a whole (57%), although some 75% of teachers were opposed.

“The mandate is clear: Nottingham supports our ambition for a five-term school year,” he said.

“Several reports indicate this pattern works best for city kids, especially in the most deprived areas, and in Nottingham we’ve come a long way in raising the standard of our education but we’re going to keep trying anything which will make a difference.

“Michael Gove and this government have stripped money from Nottingham’s Building Schools for the Future Programme and are forcing city schools to become academies.

“Gove believes local authorities can’t come up with the radical solutions needed to improve education – Nottingham is showing he’s wrong.”

Cllr Mellen added that council-maintained schools already faced some differences with academy schools in relation to their term calendars.

However he said that the chance of “changing with the county” was one that could not be ignored “in an attempt to make life easier for parents and staff”.

Nottinghamshire has yet to consult on changing its school calendar, but is expected to do so in the coming months.

County educational improvement adviser Rob Lancaster confirmed the authority had discussed possible options for changing the local school calendar with city counterparts.

“We are expecting to be in a position to consult on changes to the school term and holiday pattern later in the year,” he said.

“Once we’ve evaluated the likely impact of any changes following the consultation, preferred options will be recommended to our cabinet next May.”

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