Savour summer

17th July 1998 at 01:00
IT MAY BE as cold in Barnsley as it is in Murmansk, but calendars confirm that the school holidays really have arrived. Though the rain is sheeting down, the long "summer" break should be savoured because it may soon be a thing of the past. As Hilary Wilce says (back page), the traditional school year is under threat on both sides of the Atlantic.

A five-term year, which Newham has opted for, is popular with parents who dread summer holidays. But US and British educators also worry about "summer learning loss". Research suggests that maths performance and spelling are particularly badly affected by summer lay-offs, as are children with learning difficulties.

In America, two million children now have a year-round education that often follows a nine-weeks' school, three weeks' holiday pattern. That may not suit the British, but term-times have changed before - Kent holidays used to run from mid-August to early October to accommodate hop-pickers and acorn-harvesters - and they may change again. Teachers will want assurances on workloads. But that debate must wait. School is (almost) out, and some forecasters believe August will be glorious.

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