Council under fire from unions and teachers after cutting school summer holidays

Barnsley MBC has become the first council in England to cut summer holidays for schools to less than five weeks.

From 2017-18, schools will break up on 31 July, almost a week later than much of the rest of the country, and will return as usual in September. There will be a two-week break in the October half-term to balance out the change.

The council said the move will "support educational outcomes for pupils by reducing the long summer break, which can lead to learning loss".

The new dates will apply to community and voluntary- controlled schools. Academies, trust schools and voluntary-aided schools set their own holiday dates.

The council said it had made the decision following consultation with neighbouring authorities, head teachers, unions and teachers' associations.

But some schools, parents and unions have criticised the move.

Nick Bowen, head of Horizon Community College, told the Guardian that the changes will make it hard to recruit the best staff and could prove a "disaster" for attendance.

"There is also the fact that most of the academies in the area probably won't come on board with it, so everyone will have different holidays," he added.

"And it will be a disaster in terms of attendance because parents who have multiple children will have to take other siblings out of school if the holidays don't match."

The National Union of Teachers told the BBC it thought the consultation was still in progress and no decision had been reached.

Simon Murch, a member of the union's national executive committee, said: "It seems a very poorly thought-out idea. Anything that changes the system we've got at the moment that works really needs to be thought out."