This was published in the NT Sun on September 25 2018
HOLIDAY CHANGES – THE JURY IS OUT
The 2018 school year is ‘icebreaking’. A new holiday structure is in place and operating for the first time. This has significantly changed the organisation of our school year. Under the old program, each school semester of 20 weeks was divided into two ten week terms. The mid semester break was of four weeks duration, with a week between terms three and four.
From this year, the four week holiday period in the middle of the year (June, July) was reduced to 3 weeks. The extra week has been moved into the break between term three and term four. This year’s two week break is from next Monday October 1 to Friday October 12.
The decision to change the NT school holiday schedule was made after surveys were conducted by the CLP Government during its last term in office. Education Minister Peter Chandler organised the extensive review of school holiday arrangements. Parents, teachers and community members were asked their opinion of the structure and whether they believed a change was necessary.
Responses indicated that the majority of Territorians felt 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.
There has been a mixed reaction to the new holiday schedule. However, until the full change has been experienced, it will be hard to determine the benefit or otherwise of this approach.
Traditionally, the second half of every school year is more intense, more mentally sapping and energy using than the first half. This has to do in large part with final assessments and exam preparations. There are also very few public holidays in the latter part of the year. Down time for a single week between term three and term four was judged as insufficient for students and teachers to have 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 up until now.
There have been some concerns that the change will impact on Year 12 students preparing for their TER examinations.
This should not be an issue for students who have regular and timetabled study habits
Time will tell whether the change makes any significant difference to the NT education year. The new schedule should be in place for several years before comparisons are made.