Midlands MP calls for school holidays to be cut to help students catch up on learning 

Primary pupils learning in classroom Credit: ITV Central

The Stoke on Trent North MP has called for school holidays to be cut by two weeks to help poorer pupils to catch up on lost learning because of the pandemic. 

In a report for the think tank Onward, Jonathan Gullis who is also a former teacher, says the shortening of the break would help ease the pressures of childcare and boost pupil achievement for those furthest behind.

The backbencher also says the recent row over supplying free school meals through holiday has highlighted the need for a long-term solution to the problems of child poverty and educational disadvantage. Mr Gullis is purposing that the Government extend term time by a week either side of the summer break. 

Mr Gullis's report highlights the strain placed on less well-off working families during the summer holidays. 

According to figures in the report:

  • The average cost of holiday childcare in the UK is £133 per week. Between 2003 and 2015, nursery costs increased by 77% while earnings have remained roughly the same.

  • Evidence from charities suggests that food bank use accelerates significantly among families during the long summer holidays as they struggle to feed their children every day.

  • The poorest children see their fitness levels fall 18 times faster than their richer counterparts during school breaks. 

During lockdown, around 25% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals spent either no time or less than an hour on schooling, compared with 18% of those students not eligible for Free School Meals.

The same survey also found that roughly 20% of Free School Meals pupils had no access to a computer at home, compared to 7% for other students. 

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