/ Parenting, Travel & Leisure

Not another school holiday!

Cheeky children on beech with parents

The logistical nightmare begins for many this week as parents across the country juggle their lives around the October half-term break. No doubt leaving many to question whether this is one school holiday too many.

Now I think I need to be upfront and stress that I am not a parent. I am, however, a witness to the pressure many face during school holidays.

And as a parent of the future, the logistics and costs of childcare is becoming increasingly worrying. How will I cope, how do my friends cope, how do you cope?

With only myself and my fiancé to think about when planning our holiday, the toughest part in deciding when to go involves avoiding work deadlines and the date of the FA Cup final – well you never know!

Having my future holidays dictated by our children’s school is not something I look forward to, and without a family network within commuting distance, this type of assistance is a no-go too. And it always seems to be the grandparents who bear the brunt of childcare anyway – I’ve spotted many a weary couple recuperating by the beach on my holidays.

The cost of a half-term holiday

Even those of us who have planned to take time off this week will have faced a planning headache. The Which? Holiday team received two conflicting reports on the same day about whether holiday prices had increased or been slashed for the half-term.

Research by The Co-operative Travel, for example, says that the price of family holiday to Turkey is down by a third compared to last year’s half-term. But Santander Cards found that the price of half-term family holidays could be up to 135% higher than in the week after, when school reopens. This just leaves parents guessing as to whether they should book future holidays early or wait for last minute deals.

It’s not just the parent’s that are affected either. What about the rest of us left back in the office having to work with depleted staff numbers? As we carry out our daily jobs, a crowd of colleagues exit the building amidst a mass of confusing emails detailing random days off and re-scheduled working hours. Our only consolation is that our commute home will be quicker.

Do school holidays need to be better distributed throughout the year, or should we scrap some of them altogether? And what else can be done to help out parents during the school break?


Think of the stress this would cause the already over stressed teachers!!

I speak from the experience of over 30 years of teaching in an East London Slum School. Many of the short holidays were taken up by preparing new lessons for new curriculum. I worked on average 60 hours a week during term time – much without pay.

Frankly if I had had to give up my 6 weeks long summer holiday – I would have left after the first year – just as many of my colleagues did – The stress is enormous.

To help parents – send the children to camp.

It makes no difference if you move the holidays – the costs will always rise at school holiday time – called supply and demand, Think about it – teachers suffer this too.

Mrs P says:
26 May 2015

I think we’re also forgetting the crippling stress felt by exam students! They need this time crucially to get through revision and prepare appropriately for upcoming exams and for them these holidays are extremely important revision time, especially Winter, Easter and May half terms!

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 October 2010

People who call for fewer school holidays usually have never taught a day in their lives (daughter and granddaughter of teachers speaking).

Camps are a good idea. If they could be subsidised (I know, this is not the right political time to suggest this) all children could benefit from them, not just those whose parents could afford it, and it would take children to new environments, get them to see new things, especially those who wouldn’t travel anyway, and for those who do it would be different from holidays with their parents. Camps would open their minds, get to work as teams, make them more rounded people maybe. And so on and so forth.

It is not only the school staff who need a break – this is vital for the children too. An essential part of a young person’s education is the activities they do outside school and especially during school holidays. If parents can’t face spending a week with their children, then maybe they should have realised they weren’t fit to be parents in the first place!

I actually agree – I think kids should perhaps even have more holidays, or perhaps longer ones (Christmas holidays are too short). They’re going to spend most of their life working, so I don’t see why they can’t have some fun time with their family and friends now.

frank says:
2 May 2011

It’s not the spending the week, it is not having the holidays to take, unless we take them unpaid.
A lot of people dont actually see this point though do they!
Most people are working for less money now than they have ever.
Too many companies see the amount of unemployment and know that if you do not want to work for a lesser pay then someone else will.

frank says:
2 May 2011

It’s not the spending the week, it is not having the holidays to take, unless we take them unpaid.
A lot of people dont actually see this point though do they!
Most people are working for less money now than they have ever.
Too many companies see the amount of unemployment and know that if you do not want to work for a lesser pay then someone else will.

If you live in Leicestershire, of course, the autumn half-term holiday is out of kilter with most other authorities (being set a week earlier) so families can take advantage of cheaper holidays if they want to.
Our children are now grown up with families of their own. All I can say is that we always looked forward to our children being at home during school holidays and we planned activities in advance for the family to do. I should say, however, that my wife chose to give up her career to become a full-time mother/housewife when the first of our three children arrived. We found surviving on one wage very difficult indeed initially (I worked some evenings as well as full time during the day) and it was hard not to have many of the material things that other families enjoyed. Nevertheless, we feel this was more than repaid in a very happy family life and we continue to enjoy a very close family relationship. We would do exactly the same if we had our time again!

Surely, in 2010, it’s not beyond the capabilities of the Local Government Association to distribute half-terms around the country so that most of them don’t all fall at the same time? Wow, there’s a job for a pen-pushing civil servant to investigate and justify taxpayers’, er, tax. Ah, but that might upset the one in several thousand parents whose children attend schools in different authorities. We can’t have that 🙂

As for teachers in holidays.. if most of them are ‘working’ (all that ‘lesson planning’ for that ever-changing curriculum, yes, crazy 🙂 ) how come they don’t go into the ‘office’ more often? I thought the holidays were for the children. For a start, it might help remove the daft inset days they have at the start of.. yes, the school term, forcing parents to find yet more cover, not to mention upsetting a week-based timetable. Madness 😮

Sam – you have obviously not taught.at a state secondary school.

I have – 60 hours a week – running unpaid classes after school for the children. until 2100 every night. These ranged from hobbies to science. Then I would mark books at the weekend which was why I carried over 120 books home each week.

During the holidays I took 30 children to camp – unpaid – for two weeks of my holiday.

I also went to school during the “holiday” at other times to prepare practical science lessons and some maths lessons – not to mention other lesson preparation (though this could have been done at home) – I also painted my classroom with my own paint because it was so poorly maintained during the Thatcher era.

Inset days at my school were taken out of my holidays not the children’s – and the time and length of the short breaks are set by the school. It is the reason why some schools have eight weeks summer break and others six weeks,.
I also raised a a successful family – bought a house, car etc – all at the same time.

As I said I really doubt if you’ve taught..

Richard – you’re obviously a model teacher and an example to follow but I doubt most of the teaching profession show your commitment.

Inset days are taken out of holidays? I’m sorry, but when you get… how many weeks was it? My point about this is that why don’t they just incorporate the inset day into the non school term period (aka the ‘holiday’)? Staff are still paid just because the pupils aren’t in doesn’t mean the school should close down for the staff. It just ends up disrupting the week-based timetable.

Based on the 2011 year teachers will get 14 weeks of holiday a year. Even if a teacher works at the European WTD maximum of 48 hours (OK, that applies for 17 consecutive weeks) that still only adds up to just slightly less than anyone else working for a generous 40 hours a week with a generous 6 weeks holiday. How many teachers actually work 48 hours a week and any time during the holidays? They will say they do, of course they will! I have 4 teaching friends and not one works during the holidays. Their argument is that they work enough during term time. Fair enough. Granted, the most committed do, but then even the most committed non-teachers amongst us do more than 40 (for less holiday).

I’m not sure I understand what relevance buying a car or house is. Is this something teachers find particularly taxing that they need to mention it? I thought that was all part of normal life no one told me I should be awarded a medal for it. Where do I apply for one?

So, in conclusion, it probably evens out.

If my salary was performance based I might consider working on the holidays. People tell me I should be happy with my salary because a: I love my job, and b: I get lots of holidays. Well I’m not happy with my salary, because I do work 60 or more hours a week, I leave my house at 6:30am I get home at 7pm, I eat dinner and then work from home for a few more hours. I spend weekends doing marking, report writing, preparing for parent evenings, because its all a show for the parents, and inspectors, and then I finally get time to do what I actually became a teacher to do…I plan exciting activities that will inspire the children to learn. Why? Not because someone will notice and financially reward me, not because I have to (because fat sam is correct, not all teachers are diligent and I would get away with doing less), but because I am a committed teacher, and I do get 12 weeks holidays a year. You want to give me a performance based salary and reward all my hard work financially….then I will go into work on the holidays…for now, I do quite enough!

frank says:
2 May 2011

I think that you have a fair point in there, I think not only teachers give more than than what they are getting paid for but most of us in our work place.
I remember being at school when all the teachers took part in out of school activities e.g football volley ball net ball cross country and so on. This was the way all schools functioned, kids were happy teachers enjoyed doing the activities and they also got paid for it!
Holidays were spent doing thing you wanted to do and not catching up on marking papers etc.
When all this stopped and if I remember right that would have been in the late 70s early 80s, everything went to pot. The belt got banned and students became more verbal and agressive to teachers and there was nothing teachers could do. Now look at society……
The point I was trying to make and got side tracked was, everyone should take a stand against this type of over work that companies, education boards, governments and councils are expecting us to do.
Give us all back enjoyment of working, not squeezing us for every ounce of blood.
Today is a public holiday and my partner is at work because she is not entitled to it as she works for a German company. Just like Christmas and New year. We dont get to do important things with the kids as a family anymore because of things like this.
I could go on but I wont. I just wish people would all take a stand for once and get our society back to what it once was a truely Great Britain!

in an ideal world committed teachers would be on fantastic salaries. It must irritate the hard-working teachers as well to see less-committed teachers getting by on minimum. Unfortunately, we live in a capitalist economy and by and large salaries are based on market value. Look at professional footballers’ pay.

However, on a positive note, I do think that many of these things (in all professions, not just teaching) do even out in that those who show they can put more in do eventually get rewarded through promotion (and the consequent hassle, responsibility, paperwork and even longer hours!). Great.

Best get those lottery numbers in…

Sadly many dedicated teachers do not get promotions – I know many. I did – but I had an MA and a BSc. Many of my friends with similar qualification did get promotions but not in Teaching. It is a major reason why there is a permanent shortage of teachers. Has been the case for over 50 years to my knowledge

Maureen says:
19 April 2011

I think there are too many school holidays and in service days.
I suppose it is ok for those who are married or have a support network.
I am a divorced parent who has no family at all and an ex husband who is unable to assist.
I have to put my kids in after school at considerable cost and even afterschool does not cover every holiday that the schools keep getting and adding each year.
I already have booked all my holidays through out this year but I do not have any left for the extra holidays through April and May. Holidays are ment to be joyfull, not worrying about how you are going to get by each month.
I am having to take days off without pay which means I struggle to pay my mortgauge and it also does not look good on my work record. If my children take sick through out the year then that is more unpaid days off.
I really think that the education minister or whoever is responsible for all these holidays should take this into consideration.
I am sure there are a lot more mothers or fathers out there in my position who feel the same.
I would be better off not working and just becoming a statistic, unemployed and claiming welfare!!!

Hi can you tell me when October week started

Hi Anne, you should be able to find them here: https://www.gov.uk/school-term-holiday-dates