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Leisure industry invited into school-year debate

BUSINESSES, travel agents, the Arts Council, Caravan Club and even the British Film Institute are being asked for their views on the shape of the school year.

The Local Government Association's independent commission on terms and holidays is seeking evidence from anyone who might be affected by such changes.

Education Secretary David Blunkett and Culture Secretary Chris Smith have also been invited to join the debate with written submissions due by the start of April.

Hearings will begin in May and Chris Price, chair of the commission, said:

"Alterations will have far-reaching implications not just for parents, teachers and pupils. Holidays will affect the tourism and leisure industry while timing for ending the academic year will impact on the start of college, university and employment."

Among the possible alternatives arrangements to the conventional school year are:

Four-term year

Four terms of 10 weeks, broken by long weekends stretching fro Thursday afternoon to Tuesday morning likely to be instead of the half-term break. Terms would be separated by two-week holidays and a six-week summer break in JuneJuly. Easter would become a long bank-holiday weekend.

Five-term year

Five terms of eight weeks each, followed by two-week break, except term 5 which would be followed by four-week holiday. Easter would be a long bank-holiday weekend.

Term 1: start mid-August, end mid-October

Term 2 : start late October, end late December

Term 3: start early January, end the end of February

Term 4: start mid-March, end mid-May

Term 5: start late Mayearly June, end mid-July.

Seven-term year

Seven sessions of around a month each, separated by a week or two-week holiday and a longer break of five to six weeks between mid-July and late August. Easter would not necessarily fall into a holiday period.

Evidence should be submitted to Zoe Ollerenshaw at the LGA, tel 020 7664 33150.

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