Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Time to take a break from long school holidays

As Alice Cooper’s popular song from 1972 goes ‘School’s out for summer’.

Today — for the majority of primary and secondary school pupils in Northern Ireland — is the last day of the 08/09 school year.

Ahead lies eight weeks of glorious freedom for our future generation of entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors, doctors, architects etc after two months of arduous end-of-term tests, GCSEs, AS exams and A-Levels.

That is, of course, mixed in with the anticipation of their long-awaited results, which are due out in August.

However, in Northern Ireland pupils get notoriously long summer holidays compared to their counterparts in England and many countries in Europe.

It is a long time for young, developing minds to be idle.

Surely four weeks would be ample?

School holidays also provide a logistical nightmare for many employed parents who have to organise childcare during the summer months.

Many will turn to families for support but for others the only option is the financial burden of paid for childcare.

In the current climate when we are trying to equip the next generation with vital skills and when unemployment is at a record high, surely those summer months could be better utilised to suit all in society.

It would be a key period to focus on sports. Summer schools/|camps/academies which raise awareness of the health benefits of sport and increase interest in competitive sports, could only be a positive. #Particularly with the 2012 Olympics being held in London.

What about using four weeks for holidays and four weeks to develop our children’s language skills and teach them about other countries and culture? Or run school trips during the summer.

There is of course the question of who funds all this?

Perhaps the Government could review teachers’ contracts — what other profession gets so many holidays per annum?

Maybe student teachers could be utilised? Could parents be asked to contribute depending on their income?

However, in the meantime those who commute to economic hubs like Belfast and Londonderry will enjoy the current summer holidays which mean eight stress free weeks of less traffic on our otherwise gridlocked roads at peak times.

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