Primary school changes



Every new President likes to fiddle with the school calendar and Francois Hollande is no exception. He has set his sights on primary schools and plans to make several changes to the school calendar from next year.
Firstly, he wants to increase school attendance from four to four and half days a week while at the same time shortening the school day – as well as the length of the summer holidays.

He also wants to 'zone' the summer holidays so that they are staggered around France in the same way as Spring and Easter breaks.
At the moment France has longer school days and shorter school years than the rest of Europe with children, even in primary school, generally starting at 8.30am and finishing at 4.30pm
Prior to changes introduced in 2008, their school week was four and a half days with school either on Wednesday or Saturday mornings.
Over a school year primary school children have 140 days of lessons over 36 weeks - far fewer than in other European countries, largely thanks to the long summer holidays. This makes for very long school days for very young children. These long school days have recently been criticised by the OECD.
Although many parents support the proposed changes, others still believe that having Wednesday off is beneficial to young children.
Some opponents of the change are also concerned that it might lead to a reintroduction of Saturday morning school, which was abolished by previous President Nicolas Sarkozy four years ago.
Other critics point out that while well-off parents can make arrangements for a shorter school day, this may be difficult for lower-income working mothers (and fathers).
And whilst cutting the summer holiday may make sense, staggering the summer holidays, many complain, will make it difficult to arrange extended-family holidays.
The teaching unions, not surprisingly, are against any shortening of the summer holidays.
Education Minister Vincent Peillon will publish a report later this month with consultations then taking place until at least the end of the year.

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