Longer half-term means cheaper family holidays

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A Tunbridge Wells primary school has extended its half-term this month by a week in order to allow parents to take advantage of cheaper term-time holiday offers.

Temple Grove Academy in Friar’s Way has made the decision because of the high cost of family vacations during established school breaks.

It has rearranged its calendar so teachers’ inset days will now become ‘twilight sessions’, with staff staying on until 8pm for their training.

Headteacher Sam Linton said: “We decided to extend the October half-term for a number of reasons, one of which was to enable more families to take holidays when they are able to get time off work and it’s cheaper.

“If parents have just two children at the academy, the cost of going away during the holidays can be prohibitive and even when some factored in a fine, it was still cheaper to take the children out of school.”

Having held academy status since 2013, the primary is entitled to set its own dates, unlike state schools that fall under local authority control.

Failure to ensure an attendance of 96 per cent for a child in maintained schools leads to a £60 fine, which is increased in cases of non-payment.

The regulation was successfully challenged in the High Court by Jon Platt in June after he was fined £120 by Isle of Wight council for taking his daughter to Florida during term-time.

The move by Temple Grove also has educational benefits for the pupils. “We wanted to improve attendance rates and have a more even spread of terms,” said Ms Linton.

“The longer half-term does not mean the pupils have fewer days in school over the academic year but we have eliminated seven-week terms, meaning children are less tired and learn more effectively.”

Chiddingstone Primary School, another academy, also introduced an extended mid-term break in spring and autumn by adding 20 minutes on to each school day.

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