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Staff face holiday blues

Teachers are unhappy about plans to move A-level results day forward. Warwick Mansell reports

Plans to move A-level results day forward by up to two weeks from 2008 will destroy many teachers' holidays, schools and colleges are warning.

Breaks of even two weeks could become a thing of the past for many staff, who will feel obliged to return to advise students receiving their grades, it is claimed.

As The TES revealed in May, from 2008 the publication of annual A-level results will move forward by either one week or two, as the Government seeks to give students more time to apply to university.

The change will allow for the introduction of an "upgrade week" - seven days during which teenagers who perform better than predicted by their schools can make fresh university applications. About 9,000 students a year will benefit. GCSE results day is likely to be unchanged.

Teachers sympathise with the drive to improve university admissions. But they say the Government has not considered the effect on their annual leave.

Clarke Harrell, head of sixth form at Malmesbury school, in Wiltshire, said: "I really welcome the results day the way it is, because I get three weeks' guaranteed holidays. If it were brought forward, it would disrupt that. You would almost be thinking, 'When do I go away?'."

Malmesbury broke up on July 25 this year. Last week's A-level results were published three weeks and two days into the holidays. Moving them forward a week would cut this to just over two weeks. Mr Harrell said this would make a two-week break, such as the one he has just taken with his family in north Wales, impossible, since a few days are spent after term and before results are published on administration.

Three senior managers and around 25 teachers were in the school last week, advising students on issues relating to university admissions.

Ian MacNaughton is principal of Colchester sixth form college, Essex. He said: "There's a three-week window in which to take a holiday. For the future, that would be down to two. I think staff are going to be fed up about this."

However, John Guy, principal of Farnborough sixth form college, Hampshire, said the move would create few problems for him as the college was open 52 weeks a year.

The changes come as part of tentative moves towards teenagers applying to university after A-levels, although ministers have rejected introducing this before 2012.

Bill Rammell, higher education minister, said the proposals would go a long way to making university applications fairer. He added that teachers'

unions had welcomed bringing results day forward.

He said: "We will continue to work with them and other key partners on delivering these reforms to ensure their views are fully considered."

Timetable changes

Malmesbury school's current timetable

Summer term finishes:

Tuesday, July 25

A-level results day:

Thursday, August 17

GCSE results day:

Thursday, August 24

School returns:

Tuesday, September 5

How it might lookin 2008

Summer term finishes:

Tuesday, July 22

A-level results day:

Thursday, August 7

GCSE results day:

Thursday, August 21

School returns:

Tuesday, September 2

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