I am the learning project manager at a secondary school in Chelmsford and I have been teaching for 25 years. About 20 years ago, I became aware that the six weeks' summer holiday and school sessions of more than five weeks appear detrimental to effective learning. Research on the effects of term length, show that in any school session (currently called half terms) of greater than five weeks, the student and staff absence appears to increase dramatically after three to four weeks.
The explanation for these statistics appears to be that a "long session" increases the workload and stress in both students and staff a great deal. The benefits relating to the abolition of the six-week summer break, misses the problems still associated with long sessions. Therefore, I am confident that "change" will be much more effective if an eight-half term (or four-term model) is adopted.
My own proposal takes into account: the Year 9 national test occurring in the first week of May; the A-level and GCSE exams finishing by the end of June; keeping a four-week holiday in the "summer" (shifted to include A-level and GCSE results).
KF Feeley, 20 Marlborough Road, Brentwood, Essex