New Term dates

On Thursday 12th April during the #ukedchat I got talking about the fact a local authority to me (Nottingham) are trialling a system of have 5 terms instead of the historic 3.

This is said to be a radical step!

Below are some of the findings about the change to the holidays from a Nottingham local newspaper

Nottingham council recommends that proposals for a five-term year should be approved. A total of 58 per cent of city residents were found to be in favour of the changes after a 12-week consultation, with 38 per cent against. However the majority of staff at Nottingham City schools was against the proposals, with 77 per cent against it and 23 per cent in favour.

It will mean that the current six-week holiday will be cut to four weeks and that the five terms, of roughly equal length, will be split by two week holidays in October, December, March and May.

Councillor David Mellen, portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “The mandate is clear: Nottingham supports our ambition for a 5 term school year. Several reports indicate this pattern works best for City kids, especially in the most deprived areas, and in Nottingham we’ve come a long way in raising the standard of our education but we’re going to keep trying anything which will make a difference.”

Below is a copy of their proposed timetable

I have documented some of the pro and cons given on twitter.

These are below


  1. The holidays are always 2 or more weeks long so teachers are able to have a good and proper break.
  2. There is no 6 weeks off so the loss of learning may be decreased meaning teacher will not have to spend the first autumn term playing catch up!
  3. Holidays will be cheaper as teachers are not all off at peak times. They will have more choice of when and where to go on holiday.


  1. The 6/7 week holiday have worked for years, why change it
  2. Children and staff need 6 weeks to fully unwind (2 weeks to relax after the summer term, 2 week to have as holiday, 2 weeks to get ready for the autumn term)
  3. If there is not consistency throughout the country then families may become disjointed as they may not have time off together.
  4. Autumn term is when most learning happens: Although there is a slump in attainment, this is when the children do the most learning because they are the most rested. The spring and summer terms are when children consolidate and so their learning is changed into measurable progress.

This is not an exhausted lists and I am sure there are many others.

Please leave your suggestions so I can add them later?


I have no strong feelings for either really. I have only been in education as a teacher for 3 years full time and 6 year altogether (3 years as a TA/HLTA), so the current system works for me. Personally I feel there are more pressing issues within education.

Furthermore, I have listened to more experienced practitioners and there seems to be no definitive answer to which is best. The general consensus seems to be to go with the one that suits your area, although I see pitfalls with this argument too!

For me the only measure would be the effect it has on the children. If having more terms has a dramatic effect on learning (I said learning not grade progression!)I would go for it. If there is evidence to suggest a small or marginal change, I would be tempted to stay with things the way we have them.

Although changing the terms time may help I believe the bigger imperative is to change the mould of teaching. Teaching should be

  • Children centred
  • Child lead
  • Inspiring
  • Active
  • Exciting
  • Exhilarating
  • Stimulating
  • Not about paperwork
  • Not about playing to tests

If we were to change and adapt our teaching to be more like this I feel the holidays wouldn’t matter as the children and adult would love the curriculum, so they would perform under it!. At this moment I do get the feeling certain LA’s are just playing around with issues on the fridge of education and not addressing the major problems within it. If they were to address these problems for me many of the issues would be eradicated!

Although MAYBE I am wrong!!

Please let me know your thoughts

Nottingham City Council proposed to implement a 5-term pattern at the Executive Board meeting of the 18 October 2011. There is no difference in the number of teaching days, INSET days or holidays for teachers, staff and pupils.


10 thoughts on “New Term dates

  1. you are dealing with the same issues we are dealing with in the states. It seems as though people aren’t making the connection that one will have the attention and focus for information that is relevant, kids need to have their limbic systems opened so they are interested and want to learn. On top of that, they need some down time to assimulate all they have been learning… letting it simmer and move to their long term memory. Keep up your work..:)

  2. I’m open to the idea of rearranging terms (as long as the total days holiday doesn’t change). The reservations I have are:

    1) In my (limited) experience by the 7th week of term everyone is exhausted as it is, with the obvious impact on learning. An 8 week term seems counter-productive.
    2) If a change is made lets all agree and stick to it. I can see this becoming a political football with different governments constantly switching things around.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Both your agruements are valid and the top one is one that i have heard used a lot today on twitter. Term of this length seems to be too long and can have a determental effect on children and staff
    Thanks again

  4. I’m not convinced by the idea that there will be less of a crush for peak holiday times. I suspect that most authorities would go for having 4 weeks in August making it far more expensive for teachers. I also suspect that it would lead to a huge increase in parents taking their children on holiday in term time. June and September are bad enough now for absences.

  5. some comments from Twitter

    CatherineWilcock ‏ @CatherineW1981 said the following #NQT I can see + and – of both, although is it really possible to get your classroom ready in 2 weeks for the next year group? And I do actually like the idea of a break every few weeks and maybe we won’t spend as much during summer!

    Kirsten Ryder ‏ @KERyder hmmm, I’ll have to ponder it. I think it’s a good idea in principle but it’s how they’d expect the curriculum to work. yes, that’s sort of my line of thinking. They will need to propose a detailed explanation of how things would work in terms of units

    Sarah Mellor ‏ @MissMellor84 I can see the logic of shorter holidays, but the whole point of half-terms for me is they structure Units of work. Without half-termly units the students can get very confused with where they are and what they’re learning..

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