Perceptions and experiences of learners, their families and school practitioners of the current school calendar in Wales.
This is the latest release in the series: Effects of changes to the school year and alternative school calendars
In the view of practitioners, parents, and learners, the 6-week break causes learning loss for all learners. There is minimal lasting effect of this loss with recovery reported to happen soon after the start of the autumn term.
Staff and parents highlighted that learners with additional learning needs (ALN) are the most affected by the current school calendar.
Another specific group more affected in terms of progression and attainment are those from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Most teaching content is covered in the autumn term, on the grounds that it is consistently the longest. This is noticeable to learners themselves who said that it increased levels of fatigue.
From the perspective of Senior Leadership Teams (SLT) in secondary schools, the 6-week summer is crucial to allow a break for learners in exam years (year 10+) and thus maintain learners’ rate of progress throughout the year.
Inconsistent term lengths increase levels of fatigue at specific points of the year and affects engagement with learning at key points such as the end of the autumn and summer terms.
There was widespread acceptance amongst all staff that the beginning of any holiday period will see them suffer with an illness. During longer half-terms there is increased instances of staff illness during term time.
The shortest breaks are seen to have little effect in addressing levels of fatigue and wellbeing with two weeks being seen as more beneficial than one.
As fatigue increases, incidences of disruptive behaviour also increase, (regardless of the time of year) according to staff in all schools.
Factors contributing to behaviour issues include disruption to routines according to staff and parents, fatigue according to parents and learners, boredom according to parents, quality of homelife according to staff and weather and seasons according to staff and learners.
The summer break is viewed by staff as a well-defined break between major stages of education for learners. Some links were made between the long summer break and learner anxiety about the transition to secondary school.
Learners with ALN were seen as particularly at risk due to the combination of anxiety and challenges around transition, in addition to the other challenges the summer break poses for learners with ALN.
Reform of the school year: perceptions and experiences of the current school calendar , file type: PDF, file size: 761 KB
Research exploring reform of the school year (summary) , file type: PDF, file size: 241 KB
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