Confusion over school holidays

Minister says he wants six-week break and is then pulled back into line by prime minister’s office

25 February 2013

CONFUSION reigns over whether the government plans to cut summer holidays from the present eight weeks to six – after the education minister announced the plan on live TV and was then contradicted by the prime minister’s office.

Minister Vincent Peillon, speaking on BFMTV, said he wished to “move progressively” from the present 36 weeks of lessons in the school year towards 37 to 38 weeks and set an annual rhythm of seven weeks of classes and two weeks holiday.

He added: “We should be able to have a summer zoning, of two zones, and we should be able to have six weeks, it’s enough.”

The aim would be to start talks after 2015 but, he said, they had first to finish “the first step” of reforming the school week in primary schools, followed by college and lycée.

Although educationists, teachers and parents had expressed strong support for the proposed 4.5-day week, his plan has since been attacked by teachers’ unions and mairies who would have to fund the changes. Peillon said getting the school week change was his priority.

At the end of the programme he denied saying he wanted to move towards a six-week summer holiday, saying: “I said only that it was the ideal model.”

Former Sarkozy minister Xavier Bertrand denounced Peillon for an “off the cuff” statement without any previous discussion with interested parties.

Later, the prime minister’s office at the Matignon let it be known that the project “was not on the timetable”.
Photo: Monkey Business - Fotolia.com

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