doc

A BLACKBURN school is changing its holidays to allow pupils to go abroad in October.

The two-week autumn break plan at Wensley Fold Primary School comes shortly after the government announced more freedom for headteachers to set term dates.

In a letter, parents of pupils at the Church of England academy were told the changes were being made following many parental requests to visit relatives abroad.

Starting this year, the Manor Road school will close for a fortnight in October, instead of the usual one week for half term.

The changes in the government's Deregulation Bill will pave the way for all individual schools to change the timing and duration of terms and holidays from 2015. Academies and free schools already have this power.

The letter said: “In light of the changes by the Government to holidays in school time and the many requests we have from parents to take children out of school to visit relations overseas, the governors have decided to review the school holiday pattern 2014-2015.

“In October 2014 the school will close for two weeks from October 20 until October 31, instead of the usual one week closure. “The five days will be made up at the beginning of the school year and we will of course, have to comply with the regulatory school openings.

“We are giving all parents as much notice as possible to book flights. The governors have decided that this will be a trial for one year initially and we would welcome feedback from parents in the future.”

One parent, who asked not to be named, said October was the best time of year to visit relations in Pakistan due to more reasonable temperatures.

The latest available Ofsted figures from 2006 showed the school had a high level — 85 per cent — of ethnic minority pupils who did not speak English as a first language.

There are 304 children on roll, predominantly of Asian heritage.

One union leader said piecemeal changes at individual schools would cause ‘chaos’.

Blackburn with Darwen NUT representative Simon Jones said: “People may teach at one school, their kids go to another and their partner may teach at a third, so their holidays need to match.

“Siblings also often go to different schools. It causes so much family disruption.

“What is needed is a co-ordinated overall plan for term times, which isn’t trendy but it is true.”

No-one at the school was available for comment.