Nottingham ’5-term year’ schools dispute to go to Acas

by - 18th May 2012, 11.03 GMT

Employers in the bitter dispute over plans by Nottingham City council to scrap traditional summer holidays and impose a 5-term school year have agreed to enter talks at the conciliation service Acas.

The talks, which will involve national-level officials of the NUT for the first time, are scheduled to begin on on Wednesday next week (23rd May).

The announcement comes on the closing day of a public consultation on the council’s proposals and follows three days of strikes by hundreds of NUT teachers.

The council wants to re-divide the school year into five terms of around the same length, with two-week holidays between each term. The plan would scrap the traditional summer holiday – cutting it from six weeks to four.

Critics say there is no evidence that the proposal will improve pupils’ education. The 5-term year would also clash with the traditional patterns in other local authorities in the region, which do not intend to change the school timetable.

Nottingham City has threatened to sack any employee who refuses to sign a new contract which includes the new working pattern.

Council leaders have said there is ‘strong political will’ to implement the plans and it is understood recent internal memos circulated among managers suggest that the education authority still intends to press ahead with the new schedule from August next year.

However, school governors and now parents groups have all expressed opposition.

Union officials hope that next week’s talks will ‘focus minds’ on the council and give the education authority an opportunity to say they are backing down in the face of strong public opposition.

Watch our film report on the dispute here: