I couldn't agree more with Libby Purves regarding the summer holidays. However, some of us are not so lucky. Our local authority (Kent) has been gradually eroding this, and we have now arrived at the stage where our summer break is only five weeks and two days. I remember the days when it was nearer the second week in September that we started back - now it's September 1.
The abolitionist's position about pupils forgetting and falling back is a spurious one and based on research in American schools where there is a full three-month break. I suspect that the real reason for the idea of reducing the summer holiday is to cut down on babysitting and tiresome child-amusing dressed up with a pseudo-educational rationale.
Paul Ingleton, Borden Grammar School, Sittingbourne, Kent.