The Cabinet Secretary for Education has today confirmed that plans to change the school holidays will not happen this Senedd term to give teachers and staff space and time to deliver other reforms.

The decision on Tuesday, June 4 follows a mixed response from the biggest Welsh Government education consultation on record, generating well over 16,000 responses, which sought views on changing the school calendar to spread school holidays out more evenly across the year.

Proposals suggested moving a week from the start of the summer break into the autumn break creating a two-week half term to improve the education experiences of young people especially the most disadvantaged and align more effectively with how families live and work.

While a narrow majority of responses were in favour of changing school holidays, the findings from the consultation were equivocal and contradictory which highlights more discussion and exploration is needed to ensure any future amendments benefit everyone.

The pause will also allow other reforms such as the New Curriculum for Wales and reforms of Additional Learning Needs to be fully implemented and rolled out before other changes are introduced.

The decision on the timing of implementation of the plans will also be deferred to the next Senedd term.

The Education Secretary Lynne Neagle said:

“My starting point is always the best interests of children and young people. This means ensuring reforms are properly planned out and have the time and space to succeed.

“Opinion was hugely divided on this. To ensure we get this right, we need to continue listening to and engaging with schools, teachers, unions as well as children, young people and parents on how best we can implement any changes in the future.

“I am acutely aware we are asking a lot of teachers and schools. They are supporting our ambitious transformation of education in Wales and they need the time and the space to ensure these reforms deliver for children and young people. I want to prioritise ongoing school reforms and improving attainment and therefore, no changes will be made to the school year this Senedd term.

“In the meantime, our priority will be to maximise the support available to learners during the summer holidays including doing more to target that provision towards the poorest communities through a range of policies and activities including the School Holiday Enrichment Programme and Community Focused Schools.”

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle (Welsh Government)

Responding to the statement from Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Education on school holiday reform, Tom Giffard MS, Shadow Education Minister, said:

“Education in Wales is in crisis with soaring absenteeism, a shocking decline in education standards, the worst PISA results in the UK and rising incidences of violence plaguing our schools.

“We have long called for the Labour Government to scrap this distraction and get on with tackling the problems they have created in education over the past 25 years.

“Kicking this into the long grass is not good enough, Labour cannot ignore every teacher’s union, let alone the tourism and business sectors, who are against the plans, the policy needs to be scrapped completely.”

Term dates for 2025/2026 will be published by local authorities shortly.