Rays of hope

1st September 2000 at 01:00
SO this wasn't the last long summer holiday ever, then. And not only is the six-week break a fixture for the foresee-

able future, but we're being promised better weather for it.

Sunny summer holidays are probably the most ambitious claim to emerge from the independent commission examining the school year. Most teachers were braced for the end of the long break, given all the (unproven) claims about learning loss, but the recommendation is to start it earlier and catch more of the sunshine.

The recommendations are sensible rather than sexy. A six-term year, withregular breaks, would make school less exhausting, shift exams away from hayfever, and allow post-results university applications.

The commission had good reason to leave the summer alone - despite a finding that half the public think children should spend more time in school (presumably because adults work long hours, so why shouldn't children?). Many parents - who see themselves as their children's primary educators - wanted the time. And the summer is a rare remaining perk of teaching, vital for recruitment and retention. Especially with guaranteed sunshine.

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