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Fears over schools' term time changes in Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester
Updated 11:28am Tuesday 15th July 2014 in News
From September 2015, local authorities will no longer set school holidays- meaning it will be up to schools themselves.
But union officials say discussions between local schools are going on ‘behind closed doors’ without the involvement of teachers and parents.
It is understood that the Chesil Education Partnership wants to change its term dates and has been in discussion with the Dorchester Area Schools Partnership about this.
But union NASUWT says it could mean both partnerships will have separate dates and schools outside the partnership will have other dates too.
This, it predicts, would cause issues for parents with children in schools in different partnerships, teachers with their own children in different partnerships or elsewhere in the county. Mick Richardson, NASUWT county secretary, said: “If one set of term dates is proposed for all schools that’s one thing, but for them all to be doing different things and then the rest of Dorset to be doing something different to that, is complete madness.
“There is no consideration how that will affect parents, who may have one child in a Chesil school, another in a DASP school or outside the partnerships.
“I don’t think parents will be very happy to find out about this; it’s all going on without them being consulted.”
DASP has moved to assure parents and teachers this isn’t the case.
Carl Winch, chairman of DASP and St Mary’s Middle School headteacher, said: “These are tentative discussions going on between the two area partnerships.
“We don’t know what is going to happen at this stage. We haven’t even seen a draft document in the Dorchester area at the moment.”
Michael Foley, headteacher at Thomas Hardye School, part of DASP, said changes would be positive, meaning a fixed Easter break and a shorter autumn term.
He added: “Having a fixed Easter break is quite a popular thing.
“Parents never know when Easter break is going to be; one year it is early on, the next it could be later.
“Autumn term is highest in terms of absence and illness, so it’s taking that long, gruelling term and seeing what improvements we can make.
“We are not trying anything more radical than that- certainly not what has been suggested in other parts of the country.
“We don’t want to put parents out and cause people unnecessary trouble by having different dates.
“We want to make sure that the schools within Dorchester are working to the same timetable and in the same way, it seems to make sense that at the same time as aligning dates in Dorchester, we would talk to Chesil.
“There’s always going to be a point somewhere where the term dates don’t exactly tally.
“But we are trying to keep that to a minimum.”
David Akers, vice-chairman of the Chesil Education Partnership, said he could not comment on the situation at the moment.
It is understood there will be a meeting of those involved in the plans in September.