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!