State schools

Public schools increasingly embrace a two-week semester for “teacher mental well-being”

A survey by the newspaper found that 31 of the 102 multi-academy trusts that run high schools have two-week vacations in October, along with 30 of the country’s 149 local authorities.

This includes three – Kent, Peterborough and Bromley – who first introduce the fortnightly break in 2022.

Schools are allowed to set their own vacation schedule as long as they meet the legal minimum of 190 teaching days each year.

All local authorities and multi-academy trusts that have moved to a two-week October semester continue to maintain the 190 days by adding additional teaching time elsewhere in the year.

Darren Gild, who sits on the executive committee of the National Association of Headteachers, said the two-week break in the middle of the fall term – which has long been the preserve of private schools – is increasingly becoming most popular among public schools.

Mr Gild, who is executive director of Grace Academy in Solihull, said his school moved to a two-week semester about five years ago, when this was virtually unheard of for public schools.

“Everyone is broken”

“The reasoning is quite simple. Without a two week break halfway through, one of the terms will probably last eight weeks and to be quite frank, everyone is broken, ”he said.

“The first part is the mental well-being of the teachers. When we ask staff what is the most important thing for their well-being, they respond to the mid-October break.

Mr Gild said there were a lot of teachers leaving the profession due to burnout, so a fortnight break in October could be a good “retention strategy” for schools.

He explained that students also get a longer vacation at this point in the year, adding that with just a week’s break in October, their learning, attendance and behavior “are all affected.”

“It also gives the opportunity to spend more time with families at a time when they can probably afford a vacation without reaching the peak period,” said Mr. Gild.