Three-term good, five-term bad;Letter

29th January 1999 at 00:00
EACH week now there is more news of how good an idea it is to have a five-term school year.

I have nothing against the idea in principle but the debate has thrown up interesting attitudes to teachers' so-called holidays.

At present six weeks in the summer, two weeks at Easter and Christmas and three one-week half-terms make a total of 13 weeks off school.

Therefore I am puzzled by the likes of David Hart of the National Assocation of Head Teachers who refers to a 14-week break .

A five-term year with half-terms abolished and a four-week summer break as proposed reduces the time off school to 12 weeks. I am not aware of any compensation being offered to teachers for this extra week's work.

The 13 or 12 weeks referred to have to be reduced by at least one week for statutory holidays before they can be compared with holidays in other sections of industry who quote holiday entitlement independent of Bank holidays.

Under the proposed new arrangements for schools we thus have 11 weeks "holiday" to compare with industry in general.

From this 11 weeks in my 18-year experience as a teacher it is reasonable to deduct three weeks when the teacher is in school, either physically or mentally, preparing work.

We are therefore looking at something like eight weeks per year true rest time.

Compare this with the five weeks entitlement I am getting in my new job as a computer programmer, weeks I know will belong to me and weeks I won't be too tired to enjoy.

Ian Hollingworth ex Maths teacher

133 Alexandra Park Road

Wood Green, London N22

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