Schools’ hols at odds with Academy’s

Plans for a controversial six-term school year in Calderdale appear to have been scrapped – despite more than half of respondents being in favour of the idea.

Three months of consultation revealed that 59 per cent of schools agreed that the new six-term proposal was a good idea, while only 29 per cent disagreed.

But 296 of the 968 returned applications came from pupils of Trinity Academy, which has already announced it will have a six-term year, starting from this September. The council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel will recommend that the full council reject the plans when they meet on February 16 – meaning most schools in Calderdale will operate with different holiday patterns.

The panel will also recommend that the council does not pay any other costs generated by academy schools who do adopt the six-term year.

Under current legislation the council can only set term dates for community, voluntary controlled and special schools only. That means that academies, foundation and voluntary aided schools are able to set their own term dates.

David Whalley, head of learning for Calderdale said: “There is clear evidence from the information we have received from schools that changing to a six-term year doesn’t have significant support.

“Fourteen schools with the autonomy to set their own term dates made it clear they would not adopt the new pattern, even if the council did change and we need to try and have as many schools as possible on the same term dates,” he said.

“No other authority is looking at this and it’s a risk that we would be out of sync with them.

“But there is nothing to say that we won’t address this issue again if it becomes a national issue,” he said.

Unless the full council goes against the panel’s recommendation on February 16, Trinity Academy will be the only Calder-dale school operating the six-term year in 2011/2012.

l Is the council right to stick with the traditional holiday pattern or have they got it wrong? Tell us your views on twitter or on yoursay@halifax

l Comment: Page 12