Jeremy Miles says six-week summer holiday could change in school year shake-up

Pupils have had a very different learning experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA Images

Wales' education minister says the pandemic could be seen as an "opportunity" to change the school year - including a potential shake-up of the six-week summer holiday.

Speaking to ITV Wales correspondent Rob Osborne in an interview for Sharp End, Jeremy Miles said the shape of the school year had not been looked at for "well over a century".

Mr Miles said: "I think given the experience of the last two years when schools have, out of necessity, in all the challenges they've faced, had to work very differently - I think in a way, there's an opportunity for us to take this moment to see whether we shouldn't be looking at the shape of the school year.

"This isn't about extra days' holiday or extra days' schooling - it's about how they're allocated across the year. So we know that in the long summer holiday, it's quite a lot of lost learning in particular for some of our young people. We also know from talking to staff that the long autumn term is pretty exhausting and can cause a bit of burnout. So there's all sorts of potential advantages.

"And what we are looking at, we're talking to staff, to learners, to parents - and actually, it goes beyond the life of the school. If we were to change the summer period, that could have an impact on tourism, on childcare - so all of these people are part of the conversation."

Jeremy Miles said the pandemic could be used as an opportunity for change. Credit: Welsh Government

When questioned further about whether the six-week summer holiday could change, Mr Miles replied: "That's one of the things we're talking to people about.

"What we hear reasonably consistently from people is that it's a pretty long holiday and there's quite a lot of appetite for maybe having a shorter holiday in the summer, a longer holiday in the winter time, maybe seeing if Easter should be at the same point every year - the Easter break.

"So, you know, these are not decisions at this point - these are just parts of the conversation. So what I want to hear is what we get back from those surveys and focus groups and then I'll look at what the next steps are going to be."

The minister said changes could be made as early as this Senedd term, but that he was keen to hear a range of opinions first.

You can watch the interview in full on tonight's Sharp End at 10.45pm on ITV Wales.