Royal Welsh Show and National Eisteddfod could lose over £1m ahead of school term changes

  • ITV Wales spoke to Aled Rhys Jones, the chief executive of Royal Welsh Agricultural Society

The Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod have today joined forces to oppose school term reorganisation plans, which could see pupils in class during the first week of the traditional school summer holidays.

That would coincide with the annual Royal Welsh Show, which is the largest agricultural show of its kind in Europe and takes place at Llanelwedd every year.

Show organisers say that if pupils and their families did not attend the event because they were in school, the society "could lose more than one million pounds" due to "reduced gate sales, membership and camping revenue".

The Royal Welsh Show is an action-packed four-day event, celebrating not only food and farming but culture and diversity. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

But in years gone by, the Royal Welsh would sometimes coincide with the end of the school year, so why should the society need to worry now?

"Then it was a temporary situation which affected some counties, some of the time," said the chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, Aled Rhys Jones.

He said: "This would be a permanent situation affecting everybody. And we want all the children and teachers in Wales to have the ability to attend the Royal Welsh Show legally. We see ourselves as partners in education.

"We provide extracurricular activities for young people that come to the show."

The society is supported by the teaching unions, who say that there is no evidence to show that having a shorter summer holiday improves the performances of pupils.

  • Laura Doel is the director of the National Association of Headteachers in Wales

Laura Doel, director of the National Association of Headteachers in Wales said: "As a union, we believe that any changes in education must have the best interests of learners at heart. And there's been no evidence to suggest that changing the school year would have any academic benefit.

"In fact, all the evidence suggests to the contrary, and in other countries around the world that have longer summer holidays, pupils actually do much better than we do in Wales."

However the debate centres around several issues. Some argue that parents struggle to find childcare for the length of the summer holidays.

The Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod have today joined forces to oppose school term reorganisation plans. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Others say that disadvantaged pupils may be going without a hot meal every day for six weeks, and there are suggestions that pupils and teachers become very tired by Christmas after being in school from the start of September for the long autumn term.

The Welsh Government said: "This is an opportunity to design a school calendar that works better for learners, teachers and staff, and gives everyone the best chance to thrive in school.

"We continue to engage with key stakeholders, like the Royal Welsh Show, and the public consultation offers everyone the opportunity to have their voice heard on the proposals."

But some teachers feel differently. Nia Rees works at a West Wales school, her family go to the Royal Welsh Show for their annual holiday.

Her three children compete in competitions, and her husband has trade stands at the event for the week.

  • Nia Rees from Llandysul in Carmarthenshire is a teaching assistant at a West Wales school

If the Royal Welsh Show clashed with the end of the school academic year in 2026, she and her family would no longer be able to go.

Nia said: "We go to support my children and my husband.

"We stay up there, we enjoy, and if these changes came in and I was working in a school, I wouldn't be able to go. We wouldn't be able to continue with the tradition that we usually do. And the children would be absolutely devastated."

  • Mared Rand Jones is the chief executive of the Wales Young Farmers Club organisation

Young people would "miss out" on the chance to "socialise and compete at the Royal Welsh Show" if they are "in class", says Mared Rand Jones, chief executive of the Wales Young Farmers organisation. She also fears it could have an "impact on their mental health".

She said: "It's good for their health and wellbeing for young farmers to get together and network.

"We had a meeting with our members at council last weekend, and they were all very concerned about this. It's the pinnacle of our year and we would face real consequences if these proposals were to come to fruition."

The Welsh Government says it has an ongoing consultation for everybody to be able to participate which will run until 12 February 2024.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...