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Wales school summer holidays may be cut by a week

New plans would see the summer break start a week later with kids off for two weeks in October.

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School summer holidays in Wales will be cut by a week with the possibility of moving to a four-week break in future under new Welsh government plans.

The changes would see the week-long October half term break extended to a fortnight.

It is claimed the change would benefit disadvantaged pupils and boost the wellbeing of students and staff.

But a union said there was no evidence the changes would help children’s education.

A decision will be made in spring and, if given the go-ahead, the proposed changes would take effect in the 2025-26 school year with a five-week break starting later in July 2026.

The government said research suggested teachers and pupils found the long autumn term tiring and a fortnight half term would provide more of a rest.

Overall the number of school holidays across the year will not change.

Mother-of-two and teacher Katie, who was collecting her five-year-old daughter from an after-school club in Caerphilly, said: “When you’ve got a seven and eight-week term, that can be quite an onslaught.

“I don’t find it so bad in the spring and the summer term but sometimes that winter term can be quite a slog.”

And while six weeks over the summer “is quite a long stretch”, as a teacher she said “we also need it, frankly, by the time we get to that point”.

Faisal Abbasi, whose child attends Lakeside Primary in Cardiff, said the government should focus on other matters.

“I think they should leave it the same. Everybody is used to the schedule and people who are working have holidays pre-booked,” he said.

Fourteen-year-old schoolboy Dylan and his mother, who is from Thailand, said they use the long break to spend the summer with family there without affecting his studies.

“The summer term is an opportunity for us to visit them and catch up with them,” he said.

Lucy Purcell, headteacher at Caerleon Comprehensive, said looking at the school year is a “positive thing”.

She added: “I think the long summer holiday is not good, particularly for disadvantaged young people, so I think it’s very positive to have a shorter summer holiday and a break in the autumn term.”

Education Minister Jeremy Miles said he was concerned about the impact of the long summer break on pupils’ learning when they get back to school.

But education unions have previously argued against the reforms, saying that there are “many more pressing issues” and questioning the appetite for change.

Laura Doel from the National Association of Headteachers Cymru said: “When school staff are being made redundant to balance the books, when schools should be prioritising delivering quality education to learners, and when we are deeply concerned about the recruitment and retention crisis, this should not be a priority for government.”

Some are also worried that a shorter summer holiday could damage teacher recruitment.

The Welsh government consultation will also ask for views on the summer holiday being reduced to four weeks in future, adding a week to the May half term to spread breaks out more evenly across the year.

Changing GCSE and A-level results days to the same week rather than dates a week apart in August is also being considered.

Mr Miles said: “Families struggle to find childcare over the six weeks, and others struggle with the additional costs long summers bring.

“We also know our most disadvantaged learners suffer the most ‘learning loss’ from a long summer.”

The pledge to look at the pattern of the school year is part of the cooperation agreement between the Labour Welsh government and Plaid Cymru.

Laura Anne Jones, Welsh Conservatives’ education spokesperson, said: “There are many issues with Labour’s plans to reform the school year, with the biggest impact potentially being felt by pupils, teachers and parents. As well as an already struggling tourism sector.”

Other local authorities in England and Scotland already have two-week breaks in October including the Isle of Wight and Falkirk, while Chester has a five-week summer holiday and a fixed Easter.

Additional reporting by Gareth Bryer

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