The length of half-term weeks in UK education has been a topic of debate for many years. Some people believe that the current system, which sees half-terms last for one week, is either too short or just outright disruptive to engagement. There is the argument that it does not give pupils enough time to rest and recharge and that it can hinder their academic and personal development.
Others argue that the current system is fine and that making half-terms longer could disrupt the school year, lead to further loss of learning and convolute completing the curriculum effectively. Attendance rates are already a concern and further breaks in learning could disrupt matters even more. According to government statistics:
“The attendance rate (proportion of possible sessions attended) was 93.1% across all schools in the week commencing 25 September 2023. The absence rate was, therefore, 6.9% across all schools.”
Those students who are not attending are missing out on vital education already and plans to try and positively reintegrate them or provide them with an effective education could be interfered with during half-terms.
In addition to this, there is the argument that making half-terms longer can have an impact on families, especially those with working parents. Childcare costs could skyrocket leading to more stress placed on families and also impacting a child’s education journey.
What could be done?
One option to address these concerns could be fewer half-terms but longer breaks so students could recharge properly. Students could then attain a proper rest so they can focus intently whilst learning.
Another option could be to keep half-terms but extend their lengths to a two-week half-term. Students either need continuity or a proper rest so they can fully regain their focus when they re-enter the classroom. One week may seem like enough time to rejuvenate, but some learners with specific needs may need extra time so they can fulfil their education potential.
There is also the worry of combating the loss of learning with half-terms contributing to engagement disruption. To overcome this, half-terms could be used to provide targeted support for pupils who desperately need it. Also, it can give students time to practice so providing engaging online learning resources or organising workshops and activities can help keep engagement high.
Finding the best solution that addresses the specific needs of students should be strived towards. This can then allow them to have better experiences in education and achieve better outcomes.
Could online learning help in half-terms?
Remote learning and online alternative provisions, such as EDClass, can support students during breaks with their learning when engagement is reduced. Online learning is continuous and uninterrupted and can be completed anywhere. Students can learn in a comfortable environment whereas they may struggle in the classroom.
One-to-one support from qualified teachers could also be given; it’s important to ensure safeguarding protocols are adhered to. Students who need catch-up sessions could use half-terms to ask specific questions that they may be apprehensive about bringing up in lessons.
It’s also crucial to ensure parents are engaging with their child’s education and provide a collaborative model so they can have confidence that their child is receiving the best possible support. In a period of lost learning, half-terms could be a time when parents and schools further support their children so they can maintain or develop their knowledge and understanding.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to change the length of half-terms in UK education is a complex one. There are both pros and cons to consider, and it is important to weigh these carefully before making any decisions.
If you would like to learn more about an online alternative provision that can be used effectively in half-terms, as part of a part-time timetable or to support students with specific needs call 01909 568338, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book a free online demonstration of EDClass here.