SCHOOL HOLIDAYS – CHANGE ON THE WAY
Students and teachers from government schools in the Northern Territory are enjoying the fourth week of their midyear school holidays in the Northern Territory for the last time. From the beginning of 2018, our holiday organisation is going to change.
The four week holiday period in the middle of the year (June, July) will be reduced to 3 weeks. The extra week will be moved into the break between term three and term four (September, October).
The decision to change school holiday structure in the Northern Territory was an outcome of surveys conducted by the CLP government during its last term in office. Parents, teachers and community members were asked their opinion of the present structure and whether they believed change was necessary.
Responses indicated that the majority of Territorians felt that a change was overdue. The decision was between the holiday model of southern states (six weeks at Christmas and two weeks at the end of each term) and the one that has been adopted.
• Six weeks at Christmas
• One week between term one and two
• Three weeks between term two and three.
• Two weeks between term three and four.
I believe the new model will be good for students and teachers. It may also help parents when it comes to childcare arrangements in the middle of the year as there will be one less week for which to provide.
A week’s holiday at the end of term one is usually sufficient. The four day Easter holiday often adds value and length to the break. As well, there are a number of public holidays during term one and two, adding to recreational time. There is only one public holiday in the second half of the year.
There is a case for shortening the mid semester holiday, adding a week to the break between terms 3 and 4. Traditionally, the second half of every school year is more intense, more mentally draining and physically exhausting than the first half. This has to do in large part with pressures around final assessments and exam preparations.
A single week between these terms does not give teachers and students a meaningful break. Hopefully the longer break will enable them to enter the last stanza of the school year feeling more ready and refreshed than has been the case.
Time will tell whether the change makes any significant difference to student and teacher wellbeing and educational outcomes.
Edited version published in NT Suns newspaper on July 18 2017