In the absence of anyone at the DfE being willing to think this one through before announcing it in the press, I am taking a few minutes out of my (thankfully very relaxed) holiday schedule to do it for them. ‘Schools open for 51 weeks a year’ Mr Gove? Here are some questions you need to answer first.
1. Do you mean the traditional 39 weeks, with an optional holiday club for the other 12 weeks?
(a) Who is going to manage this?
(b) Who is going to staff this?
(c) What kind of qualifications will the staff have? Where will you find them? And if you’re thinking staff might be mostly those parents who need to use childcare to allow them to work … (it all gets a bit circular at this point.)
(d) Who will oversee and inspect the schemes?
(e) Is this countrywide, or just where there is enough demand? (It is hard to make a holiday club financially viable in rural areas – it is part time by definition.)
(f) Who is going to pay for this? If that is parents, how much will it cost? If not, didn’t you just write the DfE a massive bill?
2. Or do you mean 51 weeks ‘school’ in the educational sense of the word, with parents taking their children on holiday when it suits their working patterns? The total sea change as it were?
(a) Are you sure you didn’t just accidentally abolish ‘childhood’?
(b) How can you plan a coherent curriculum if children might go missing mid term?
(c) Do you realise how physically demanding teaching and learning is for both teachers and children?
(d) Uh … teachers … have children … did you think of that one? (again it becomes rather circular at this point)
(e) How do you justify the gap between the length of private school holidays and those for children at state schools?
(f) You do the rest. That’s what you get paid for.