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The incredible shrinking holiday

At the end of last term I was given my diary for the new academic year as usual. I suspect that I am not the most dedicated of teachers because the first thing I do is highlight all the holidays in luminous yellow. This lifts my spirits each July as I await the summer break.

Over the years, a cloud has slowly appeared over this ray of sunshine. Each year the autumn term starts earlier and earlier. I realised several years ago the reason for this gradual change and assumed, incorrectly, that it would be rectified.

The problem arises like this. The 1987 Teachers Pay and Conditions Act stipulates that teachers work a total of 195 days, that is 39 weeks. Teachers get 13 weeks' holiday annually. This is a commonly assumed condition of service.

This accounts for a total of 52 weeks per year. Unfortunately, the calendar year has 52 weeks and one day or 52 weeks and two days in a leap year. Consequently, the academic year slips back each year by one or two days. If this continues, the autumn term will soon be starting in August!

Presumably, if the Act stipulates that teachers do work 195 days it must ipso facto stipulate that teachers do not work the remaining 170 or 171 days of the year. So the unaccounted for one or two days each year since the Act came into force are in fact "due days" holiday, outstanding!

In order to "bounce" the academic year back to restore the pre-Education Act situation, the academic year 199899 should start on Monday September 14.

The solution would be to accumulate these "due days" and when the running total reaches seven, an extra week is added to the summer break.

DAVID SOLOMONS

25 Marlborough Drive Clay Hall Ilford, Essex

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