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Short-term bid to cut fatigue

ANY inquiry into possible changes to the school year soon finds the long summer break is seen as sacrosanct - and as one of the few perks left for today's beleaguered teachers, writes Josephine Hocking.

Giving evidence during the seven-month inquiry, the teaching unions said maintaining a six-week recess was essential to allow staff and pupils to recuperate and plan for the new academic year.

It was also essential for recruitment, they added.

However, the unions were generally in favour of any move to standardise term length to allow for better planning and to reduce the tiredness which many teachers and pupils often felt towards the end of very long terms.

The main concern of exam authorities was the fact that a revamped school year might make teachers more reluctant to takeon extra marking work if the exams do not fall near the end of term.

Representatives of the travel industry said they would welcome any move, such as the staggering of the summer break by region, that would spread uptake of holidays over a longer period.

The Cinema Exhibitors' Association favours the status quo. Currently, there is a fixed pattern among film distributors of releasing family films during the school holidays and everyone knows where and when to find these films as a result, says the association. Change would be detrimental to the industry, it believed.

But the lack of evidence on how any reorganisation of the school year would actually improve the quality of children's learning was a point raised by many parents, teachers and local education authorities.

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