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Time shift is the way of the future

William Cotterell believes that the five-term year his school introduced three years ago is a big improvement on the three-term variety.

"It breaks up the academic year into five manageable chunks and we think it has improved the quality of learning," said Mr Cotterell, vice-principal of Homewood school in Tenterden, Kent.

A summer holiday of just four, sometimes five, weeks reduces learning loss,and two-week breaks in October and February give staff and students a chance to recharge their batteries, he said.

Before adopting for the five-term year Homewood looked at other options, including a six-term model. But a five-term year was considered more suitable.

The new school year was introduced with other changes, including a new assessment and reporting system that means students at this foundation school get a report at the end of each eight-week term. They also start new courses immediately after the break between terms 4 and 5 in June. So rather than waiting until September, Year 9 students, for example, start studying for GCSEs a few weeks after finishing Sats.

William Cotterell admits that the school'sholiday patterns can be a problem for parents with children at both Homewood and other schools, as well as for staff with school-age children. But he said: "I know of no teacher who has left because of the five-term year."

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