Updated – More than 9,000 parents sign petition to stop school change to half term holiday in Leicester

By Max Pearson

A petition requesting Leicester City Council to reconsider its plan to bring half term a week forward for Leicestershire County Council schools has amassed more than 9,000 signatures.

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The October 2018 half term in Leicester is scheduled to be a week ahead of the schools in the rest of the county, causing a logistical problem for families who have relations in both council schools.

The dilemma led to Westley Allen creating a petition asking both councils to reconsider the set dates and align their half terms breaks.

Mr Allen said: “The petition was started as two of my sons attend a county school and my other attends a city school.

“My wife also works at a city school, and within a school setting, holidays are restricted to term time so my wife could not take time off to care for our other two sons.”

He added: “They are too old for holiday clubs but too young to be left alone.”

Deputy City Mayor, Councillor Sarah Russell, said: “The county has decided on a very long nine weeks of school between the October half-term and Christmas. No other local counties have gone for this approach.”

“Many county schools are also academies which means there can be even more variation, and it would therefore never be possible for us to align with every other local school.”

A spokesperson for Leicester City Council, said: “The city term dates for the next three years are based on proposals put together by a working party that consisted of head teacher, school governor and union representatives. The proposals reflect agreed guiding principles that are important, and always applied, when looking at the city’s school term and holiday dates.”

“A detailed consultation was carried out on the proposals. This resulted in 113 out of 163 respondents ­ which included teachers and parents ­voting for the option and term dates adopted.”

“Since then, a number of other local authorities have published their term dates. As a result, we looked again at arrangements for the 2019 spring half term break, and brought it into line with other areas.”

“However, to bring the city’s October 2018 half-term into line with county would result in two half terms of quite starkly different lengths, with a nine-week run into the Christmas break. This would be contrary to our guiding principles and we have no plans to do this.”

Leicester has traditionally had different term dates to the rest of the country, allowing families to go on holiday during less busy weeks of the year.

Mr Allen said: “I understand that the City Council did give people a chance to vote for holiday dates a few years back, but at the time it wasn’t known when the County Council would be off.

“The decision was made to shorten the term leading up to Christmas.

“However, this year we have a longer term and so it seems this is not as much of an issue for families struggling with childcare.”

The move taken by Leicester City Council has appeared to anger a lot of local residents, with the petition receiving over 9,000 signatures.

A Leicestershire County Council spokesman, said: “We recognise the importance of trying to align term time patterns between the city and county for families and we strive to achieve this. However, as many Leicestershire schools are academies and have chosen to set their own term time patterns, it means that some schools will be out of sync with others.”

One of the signatories said: “I work in a city school, the same one that my two youngest daughters attend.”

“My eldest daughter attends a county secondary school, and as things stand we will not be able to enjoy the half-term as a family.”

Mr Allen added: “Leicester has always enjoyed a different week off to most of the UK, which in turn offers cheaper holidays and less busy trips to theme parks.

“This is another privilege we will lose.”

You can find the petition at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/856/893/906/bring-leicester-city-october-break-in-line-with-county-2018/

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