False seduction of the five-term sirens;Letter

4th June 1999 at 01:00
LIFE in the heady world of Brooke Western community technology college has evidently blurred Gareth Newman's memory of holiday schedules for "ordinary" pupils (Friday Magazine, May 21).

In East Sussex we do not have seven-week holidays. Our pupils get six weeks. That is half what 98 per cent of American children get. It is these pupils, not their British counterparts, who have been subject to research into "learning loss".

Once we cut through the seductive advocacy of the five-term lobby we find ourselves facing a serious paucity of research. There is nothing at all on the effects of repeated eight-week stretches on primary children and no more than questionnaire responses from a handful of CTCs to guide us on older pupils' reactions.

Schools are handling enough change without this sort of speculative tinkering. It's time to drop this ill-founded scheme and let us all get on with our work.

Philip Tapsfield

45 Crescent Road

Burgess Hill, West Sussex

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