Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
Since I became Minister for Education and Skills I have been aware of the difficulties and increased costs faced by many families in having to fund additional child care costs as a result of variations in school term dates and therefore school holidays.
The Education (Wales) Act 2014 changed arrangements for term date setting in Wales by inserting new Wales-only provisions into the Education Act 2002. As a result, while local authorities and the governing bodies of voluntary aided and foundation schools (“relevant governing bodies”) retain the right to set term dates for their schools, they are also now under a duty to work together to ensure that those dates are the same or as similar as possible.
Local authorities are required to inform the Welsh Ministers of the term dates set for all maintained schools (including voluntary aided and foundations schools) within their respective areas by the final working day of August. If, despite best efforts, consensus is not achieved the Education Act 2002 gives the Welsh Ministers the power to direct local authorities and relevant governing bodies on what their term dates must be, so that term dates are harmonised across Wales.
Before using their powers of direction to set term dates Welsh Ministers are under a duty to carry out an appropriate consultation.
In determining which term dates to set for 2016/17 I have carefully considered all signed notifications received from 21 local authorities and for 70 voluntary aided and foundations schools along with unverified information received including unsigned notifications. I have also considered responses to a 12 week consultation on the term dates I proposed to set.
The term dates I intend to set are those I consulted on. They take into account some aspects of term dates received from each main region in Wales. Whilst I am mindful of some concern raised about the various events and celebrations of the Roman Catholic Church and Easter term dates, I have given consideration to the fact that the dates reflect the opinions of the majority of voluntary aided and foundation schools who expressed a view in relation to the Easter break as part of the harmonisation process.
I therefore consider it reasonable to set term dates for 2016/17 which would see schools breaking up for Easter before the start of the Holy Week. On this basis I have decided that the term dates for all maintained schools in Wales for 2016/17 will be those set out in the table below.
First day of school year: Thursday, 1st September 2016
Autumn half term holiday: Monday, 24th October 2016 to Friday, 28th October 2016
Christmas holiday Monday: 19th December 2016 to Monday, 2nd January 2017 (i.e. return to school on Tuesday 3rd January 2017)
Spring half term: Monday: 20th February 2017 to Friday, 24th February 2017
Easter holiday Monday: 10th April 2017 to Friday, 21st April 2017
Summer half term Monday: 29th May 2017 to Friday, 2nd June 2017
Final day in school Friday, 21st July 2017
The published school term dates for 2016/17 and the direction to all local authorities and all school governing bodies of voluntary aided and foundation schools in Wales will be published on the Welsh Government website.