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Welsh Government Shelves Plan for Shorter School Summer Holidays

by CiCi
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Cardiff, Wales The Welsh government has announced a postponement of its controversial proposal to shorten the school summer holiday, pushing the decision until after the next Senedd election in May 2026. The decision comes amidst fierce opposition from teaching unions, agricultural groups, and tourist businesses.

The proposal, which aimed to extend the October half-term break and shorten the summer holiday by a week, had generated significant debate and attracted over 16,000 responses during a public consultation. While a “narrow majority” of respondents favored the changes, the government acknowledged contradictory findings, prompting a “pause” for further discussion.

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Education Secretary Lynne Neagle cited the need for schools to focus on other key reforms, including the new curriculum for Wales and an overhaul of additional learning needs, as the reason for postponing the holiday change.

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“We are acutely aware that we are asking a lot of teachers and schools,” said Neagle, emphasizing the need to prioritize ongoing education reforms.

The decision has been met with relief from teaching unions, who had vehemently opposed the proposal, arguing it would be a distraction from other challenges faced by schools and could potentially deter teachers from joining the profession.

“We are relieved that this decision has been made,” said Eithne Hughes, director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru. “As the consultation proved, and as we knew all along, there is no unanimous call from parents or teachers for changes to be made to the school holidays.”

The NASUWT union echoed these sentiments, calling the proposed changes to the summer break “a bizarre attack” and emphasizing that Wales already has the shortest summer break in Europe.

The proposal had been part of a broader plan to modernize schooling in Wales, initiated in 2019 by the previous administration. The plan gained momentum following the COVID-19 pandemic, with a pledge to “radically reform” school term dates included in a cooperation agreement between the Welsh government and Plaid Cymru in 2021.

However, the policy’s future became uncertain after the departure of former First Minister Mark Drakeford and Plaid Cymru’s withdrawal from the cooperation agreement.

With the decision to postpone the holiday changes, the issue now falls to the next Welsh government after the 2026 election. This means any implementation of shorter school holidays is unlikely to take effect before the 2028-2029 school year.

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