Trust gets parent and staff approval for autumn half term break

Breckland School in Brandon is part of Unity Schools Partnership

Unity Schools Partnership, which includes Breckland School in Brandon, can today announce that it will be extending the Autumn half term break to a fortnight across all of its member schools.

Following a trial last year, the trust carried out a second round of consultation in January and found that the majority of staff and parents were in favour of the two-week half term which this year will run from Monday 28th October to Friday 8th November.

Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership, said: “We would like to thank every person who took part in the two consultations and have given us their feedback and comments since we trialled the initial two-week half term in October.

“While a majority of staff and parents were in favour of the two-week half term, we acknowledge and take seriously all those comments from individuals not in favour of the proposal.

“Although there are various views, the two most significant are the cost of childcare and how learning time is made up.

“We plan again to organise additional childcare during the second week of this half-term break and individual school headteachers will explain how the learning time will be effectively addressed.”

The second round of consultation, which was launched last month, saw the trust receive 2,929 responses from parents with 58% in favour of a two-week break and 42% against the proposal.

In addition, 1,079 responses were received from staff with 89% in favour of the two-week break.

One of the main reasons behind trialling the extended October half term was to try and reduce staff and student absence during a time in the school year when figures are quite high.

The review of the trial two-week half term found that, between the half-term break and Christmas:

  • Pupil absence due to illness was less in every trust school in 2023 than in 2022, and overall reduced by 25%
  • Staff absence reduced by 50%.

Plans to offer more holiday activities during the two-week break in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Sudbury and Haverhill are being finalised with the potential for this to be extended into other towns covered by the trust.

In March last year, the two-week Autumn half term break was originally proposed to combat high absence and also recruitment challenges for both teaching and classroom support staff.

Mr Coulson added: “As with every trust and school across the country, staff recruitment and retention is a challenge.

“We are constantly looking at ways to address this issue and highlight why a career in education remains as important and valued as ever.”

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