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Freedom of Information (FoI) responses

Unity Schools Partnership has received a number of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests in response to the October Half Term changes.

Please click here to view our responses.

Responses to parents/carers about revised dates for the October half-term break

We will reply to each message received regarding the revised dates for the October half-term break, but want to share these responses for all who have questions about this decision.

What was the consultation process and how was it measured?

  • Schools considered possible options, in December, for adjusting the school calendar and school day, and, in particular, how they would accommodate additional learning time each week if there was to be an additional week’s break in October. A previous consultation (four years ago) where there was a proposal to revise the whole school year’s calendar, did not get agreement as to how best to do this.
  • A trust-wide questionnaire was developed for all staff and parents in all trust schools, and notification was sent to schools local to trust schools.
  • Schools amended the questionnaire according to their particular proposed amendments to the school day, and distributed the questionnaire through their normal channels of communication with parents, i.e. email, ParentMail, Class Dojo etc and also consulted staff.
  • 2,349 parents responded – 1,287 in favour of the proposal, 1,062 against.
  • 1,086 staff responded – 923 in favour of the proposal, 163 against.

What responses were received from parents?

  • A majority of parents who responded were in favour of the proposal – with some responses agreeing with reasons put forward in the proposal: a break in the autumn term that we hope will lead to less pupil and staff absence during November; an opportunity for those who wish to take a cheaper holiday (not in term time) and, following the pattern of schools and trusts elsewhere, as a measure to recruit staff.
  • Parents who did not agree with the proposal had a number of reasons with the top three being challenges about childcare in the further week of the October break, disagreement about the replacement of learning time and disagreement about how long school staff should work.

How are we responding to parents’ concerns?

  • We have decided that this change in the school calendar will be for 2023-24 and there will be a review of the arrangement before making a decision about 2024-25 and following years.
  • The trust is looking to provide activity camps to support with childcare, we will initially be looking at providing this support in hubs, i.e. Haverhill, Newmarket, Bury and Sudbury.

How will we review the impact of the decision for the school year 2023/2024 and whether to continue the arrangement in future years?

  • We will look at absence rates in the autumn term 2023.
  • We will look at the recruitment and retention of school staff compared to other schools in the area.
  • We will look at the learning time in each school and the impact the changes have had – this will include reviewing the arrangements in each school and the particular decisions that have been made.
  • We will again ask parents for their views.

What are the different arrangements for adjusting learning time in each school?

  • These were proposed in the questionnaires that went to parents and staff.
  • Where there were significant concerns raised at particular schools, these will be reviewed and schools will update parents about specific changes from September.