Tuesday, 5 January 2010

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR TROY WEEK?

Troy Junior goes back to school tomorrow (Wednesday). The teachers have been there since Monday but the first two days of term are "PD Days". PD stands for Professional Development and they are used for teacher training and updating purposes. I believe the concept started many years ago when these training days were called "Baker Days" after the government minister who first introduced them. I'm not sure when they changed the name to "PD Days".

I have had a potential brainwave - "Troy Weeks". I say potential as I'm interested to hear your feedback on my idea. I'm calling them "Troy Weeks" because I want the kudos should the concept turn into reality.

I've blogged here before about the enormous increase in the price of resort hotel rates, air-fares and package deals during the school holiday periods. A week at Easter or in the July/August period will cost more than double a similar week during the school terms. All the bargain offers tend to be during the school term. If you take your child out of school during term time to save a fortune on holiday costs then this is virtually guarenteed to be an "unauthorised absence" and in theory at least can lead to the parent being fined. As a Parent School Governor I have the added pressure of having to set an example and therefore have resisted the temptation to take Troy Junior on holiday during school term.

My new concept of the "Troy Week" solves this problem. During the school year there are five PD days. Normally they are taken over the course of the year, one day at a time (although this January two have been combined). The timing of the PD Days is set by the Local Education Authority so there is consistency within a region - all children being off school at the same time. A "Troy Week" would combine the five PD Days - taking them all together in one week. This would allow teachers to go off on residential training courses and have proper in-depth training and updating on new techniques and changes to the curriculum. There would be more time for in-depth target setting per pupil and more time to evaluate pupil progress and development needs in a calm and considered way. School policies and procedures could be thoroughly reviewed and revised.

There would be benefits for the school and the teachers by combining the five PD Days into a "Troy Week". Now lets look at the benefit to children and parents. If the various Local Education Authorities choose different dates for their "Troy Weeks" (eg. Suffolk in November, Yorkshire in May etc. etc.) then all the nation's families would not be going off on holiday at the same time. Suffolk parents could choose a week in the Canary Islands, Tunisia or Cyprus off-peak in November whilst Yorkshire parents would go off-peak in May. With thirty school weeks to choose from then less than 4% of the nation's parents would be holidaying at the same time. There would not be same peak demand and pricing during the "Troy Weeks" that there is during normal school holidays. There would be no excuse for parents to take their children out of school unofficially just to save money or to make a nice holiday actually affordable. Unofficial absences would be cut dramatically. It would also relieve some (a lot?) of the pressure for holidays during the school holiday period therefore reducing peak pricing on those weeks too.

To me the concept of a "Troy Week" has so many benefits but with minimal disadvantages. Do you agree? I'd love to hear your thoughts. In years to come when you hear a neighbour say "We're off to Tenerife for Troy Week" you'll remember me and being one of the first to read about the idea here first!

15 comments:

Suzanne Jones said...

Brilliant idea.

Troy said...

Thanks Suzanne, that's a good start!

Elaine said...

I think it's a great idea, but I can see trouble ahead and possibly the start of warfare! What if Devon had Troy week in January and Somerset had it in June? If I couldn't aford to fly to hotter climates, but just had enough pennies for Spain, I certainly wouldn't want to go in January!

I think a petition should be sent to the government stating that all children should be allowed seven days holiday at any point in the year (excluding examination dates).
It's not much to ask, is it?

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Sounds sensible to me. But nothing is ever that simple. I should not give you ammunition but unions are very set in their ways. (Was a union rep for many years)
Am fascinated as why you are still keen to 'change the world.' Can't remember how old you are. Years younger than me? Mind you, we need people of all types to query the full time politicians.
Good luck, when you stop thinking you've had it.

Debs said...

I think it's a great idea and would save me a fortune.

Troy said...

Elaine - sounds like you'll need to move to Somerset.
If they added one week to the school year but gave parents the authority to take one week's holiday within term time then it could solve the problem without reducing childrens' time in education.

Ken - I'll reach the grand old age of 55 this year!
I think the world needs changing, although in many ways needs changing back to how things were.
I'm surprised by your comment on Unions - I thought they were at the main drivers for modernisation and efficiency improvements to create additional wealth and economic advancement for the masses. (Only joking!).

Debs - perhaps I should patent the idea and get a 1% royalty on all holidays booked in Troy Weeks?

Catharine Withenay said...

I know PD Days as Inset Days, but still like Baker Days (from my childhood - oh, I'm so old...) best.
Not sure about grouping them all together. Think it better if parents aren't threatened with fines if they take their children off school. Mine will have a day or two off in order for us to fly to Zambia, despite being a parent governor! It should be balanced with the 'education' the children will receive by being on holiday.

Oh, and thanks for the award (last blog post) - had a Christmas/NY holiday from the computer so only just seen it. Thank you!!

Lane said...

Sounds like an excellent idea. Elaine has a point about the timimg but if every family was able to take a Troy week (see, it's slipping off the tongue already) when they choose, then brilliant.

Wouldn't the holiday companies just love that, ha!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Absolutely bloody brilliant. As one who WILL be taking three children out of school so that we can go on our first ever skiing holiday to celebrate mine and Husband's combined 50th birthdays, I am one of those guilty parents... but we are saving literally thousands of pounds by going another time. Your idea is superb. Go on, make them do it, Troy! xx

Troy said...

Catharine - thanks for contributing to the debate. I think a trip to Zambia would be a great education for any child. I may suggest it for our Year 5 Residential trip next year.

Lane - I see the parameters are changing from a fixed PD week to a "go any week you want" week - but I can live with that.

LWM - I thought "SKI" holidays were what older people did - "Spending the Kids' Inheritance".
As someone in the education field I appreciate your support. Enjoy your own "Troy Week" on the slopes.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Did Troy Jnr go back to school? The country's a mess, in more ways than one!

CJ xx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Can we trade "Troy weeks" or "Troy days" as in trading carbon emissions? I think you have just thought up the "Troy currency" or "Troy gold". Fab.

Troy said...

CJ - Troy Junior has been at school each day, Wednesday to Friday. His Primary school stayed open but the High School that occupies adjacent grounds has been closed (quite disgracefully).
You may think the country is a mess but it's alwhite, as Jonathan Woss might say.

Hadriana - there are actually 100Fabs in a Troy Pound don't you know!
Not sure about trading Troy Weeks but you can time-share my child and I'll fly off to Barbados
(only kidding social services).

DJ Kirkby said...

That's a good idea but my manager would be less keen to let me have a week off due to school closures. She is much happier with allowing me to work from home on random one day school inset days. I quite like the idea of a whole week together though we would stick to our 'staycations' instead of going anywhere.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I'm still laughing about your comment over at mine.[A bold lady indeed!]