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Total Outrage at Plan for School Summer Holidays in the UAE to be Slashed to Just 2 Weeks.

Schools Summer Holidays Slashed to Just 2 Weeks. 5 Term Academic Years – UAE Schools and parents, mostly,  say …“No!”

With the UK looking to overhaul British education and the way it is taught – we look at the changes being mooted. “Nothing is off the table” according to the UK Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson CBE MP.

Already we know being considered are:

  • Shortening of all school holidays to just two weeks maximum per term.
  • The end of six and seven week-long Summer holidays entirely/ Summer holidays would also be set at a maximum two weeks.
  • Stopping all examinations at 16 – although Mr Williamson has now shot down lobbying by the Chartered College of Teaching, ASCL and others others to abolish GCSE examinations altogether. A growing consensus is emerging that examinations at sixteen are now redundant given that students must now continue in education until they are eighteen years of age:

“The reliance on taking terminal exams on an industrial scale now seems so excessive and outdated.”

Richard Sheriff. President of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)

  • New shorter five term academic years to replace the three-term system in place currently:

“There’s been discussion about five-term years. It’s right to have that discussion, look at the evidence and make an assessment as to what are the best options, about how we can really drive children’s attainment in schools, especially children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, so this is why we’ve asked Kevan to look at all options.

I think we should never be nervous about looking at new routes and different ways of doing things.”

Gavin Williamson CBE MP. Secretary of State for Education. UK.


  • Longer school days – in part to help students catch-up on education lost because of the Covid 19 pandemic – but also as potentially a long-term permanent way to strengthen education

The chosen reforms will be introduced in “the coming months and years” following a review by Sir Kevan Collins, the UK government’s education recovery commissioner over an 18-month period.“

Will UAE schools have to slash Summer holidays to just two weeks and introduce 5 week terms. Radical overhaul greeted with shock by UAE schools and parents.

Interestingly, Mr Williamson was said to have rejected any move to cancel GCSE examinations on the basis that he “did not want a return to the 1970s”. However, examinations did exist in the 1970s in the shape of O’ Levels, a forerunner of today’s GCSEs.

“We have asked Sir Kevan Collins to leave no stone unturned.

We see this as one of those moments – a little bit like the 1944 Education Reform Act that came out of the Second World War – about how we can be transformative in terms of changing and improving the opportunities for young people.”

Gavin Williamson CBE MP. Secretary of State for Education. UK.


UAE Schools and Parents, mostly, Say “NO!”

Speaking with school leaders and parents across the UAE, the prospect of Summer holidays being shortened to two weeks has found us greeted with a range of responses from outright rejection of the idea to expressions of absolute horror.

Arguments put forward in rejecting the idea include that :

  • Summer holidays are vital for students and teachers to recharge their batteries.
  • The Summer holidays provide important family time.
  • The Summer holidays are not long enough – in Finland the Summer holidays are between 8 and 10 weeks’ long.
  • Long holidays are needed for children to gain new skills and explore the world.
  • Two weeks are not long enough for students to forget school and enjoy their time away from school.
  • Many teachers use at least two weeks of the Summer holidays to prepare lesson plans and plan for the academic year ahead – this time would have to be found from somewhere else.

Only one parent in a group of thirty we questioned spoke in favour of reducing the length of the school holidays:

“After a week of Summer holidays I need a break and my son gets bored. These holidays are too long and the kids end up forgetting everything. These holidays in my view are all about teachers, not children. They should be shorter.”

As a rule, in British schools, the school year has been traditionally split between a six-week break in Summer, two weeks’ holiday at Easter and Christmas, and week-long half-term breaks in October, February and May. The current holiday diary for students in UAE schools can be found here.


Have your Say

The debate about the length of the Summer holidays has raged since the seventies – but no one has proposed before slashing them to just two weeks. Many fear that Covid 19 may result in changes being made to British education too quickly and that are ill thought through.

  • Should Summer holidays be slashed to two weeks in the UAE?
  • Should we have five-week terms across UAE schools?
  • Should the school day be lengthened?
  • Should the examinations system be changed? 

Write to the editor at [email protected] and let us know what you think about the changes being considered. Please make clear in your email whether you are happy for us to publish your name in our reporting.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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