School Summer Break

  • Some MPs and commentators have suggested that the school summer break (usually of five-six weeks) is too long. Yet children need time to re-charge their batteries, play and spend time with their families. The summer break is also essential for the completion of larger building and maintenance projects, including removal of asbestos, which for health and safety reasons cannot take place during term time.
  • In fact schools in Britain have shorter summer holidays than many other countries. The summer breaks is eight weeks long in Belgium, France and Norway; nine weeks in Canada; ten weeks in Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Poland and Sweden; 11 weeks in Iceland and 12 weeks in the USA.   
  • The summer break in Finland is four weeks’ longer than that in England and Wales, yet the country’s education system is considered to be among the best in the world.
  • Behind Mexico the UK has the least number of public holidays of any nation in the world1.
  • Private schools in the UK have longer summer holidays yet, there is no suggestion that this is disadvantageous for their pupils.
  • Some have argued that a six-week summer break is inconvenient for parents, but the solution is not longer time spent in school but better holiday provision for children.
  • Compressing the summer break into four weeks, as some have suggested, would cause problems for millions of families scrambling to book holidays. There would be even higher prices at peak periods and a greater likelihood that parents would simply take their children out of school during term time.
  • In Wales, responsibility for the setting of school holidays will, as a result of the Education (Wales) Bill, be devolved to the Welsh Government. The Education Minister in Wales has stated that there are no plans to change the existing structure..