Break for students and teachers during school holidays

Published Date: 16 August 2016 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye, Tanjong Pagar GRC

Question

To ask the Acting Minister for Education (Schools) (a) how many schools adhere to the Ministry's guideline on giving students and school teachers at least a two-week break during the June school holidays; (b) whether the Ministry can review this guideline to at least a three-week break so that students and school teachers can have more time to rest and bond with their families; and (c) whether a limit can be made to the number of hours a day that a student can spend in school for official remedial classes or co-curricular activities during the school holidays.

Response

The well-being of our teachers is important and we have put in place various initiatives to support their work-life needs. A set of guidelines is provided to schools to support and guide them in managing their teachers’ workload and well-being. One of these guidelines is the provision of protected vacation time during school holidays to ensure that teachers have sufficient time to rest and bond with their families. The baseline protected time in the school vacation comprises at least two days in March, two weeks in June, two days in September and three weeks in November / December.

Under the guideline on protected vacation time, teachers are to be given at least two weeks off in the June holidays and this has been observed by all the schools. As this is a baseline provision, schools do, in most cases, give their teachers more than two weeks off in the June holidays. While setting this baseline provision, MOE is mindful of the need to accord schools some flexibility to meet their specific needs, for example, to support teachers' professional development programmes as well as programmes for their students. In principle, schools seek to optimise the holidays to ensure that their teachers get a sufficient break to rest and recharge.

Similarly, schools seek to ensure that students are also given adequate time off during the holidays to rest and spend time with their families, and pursue their personal or recreational activities. Unless necessary, students are not required to attend school during the holidays. However, schools may use part of the school holidays to conduct remedial or enrichment classes and Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) for specific groups of students. These activities are planned after due consideration of the students’ learning and developmental needs. For example, the June holidays may be an opportune time for teachers to address students’ learning gaps identified during the mid-year examinations through the provision of small group remediation to those who may benefit from it. Part of the school holidays may also be used to organise activities for CCAs that may not be easily conducted during term time, such as camps and leadership courses.

Given that there are different student profiles and needs across the schools, it may not be meaningful to set a limit on the number of hours a student can spend in school during the school holidays that can be universally applied to all students.

Nonetheless, we agree that the school holidays are an important time for the students to take a break from school. In planning holiday programmes, our schools are mindful of this and have processes in place to monitor and co-ordinate holiday homework and activities. School holiday programmes are usually not compulsory, and students do have a choice to opt out of them. Schools are also reminded to inform parents of planned school activities early to facilitate their holiday planning.

MOE will continue to monitor that schools are judicious in their planning of holiday activities and to be mindful of the students’ and teachers’ need for a restful break during the school holidays. MOE will also continue to engage School Leaders in their review of programmes to maximise vacation time beyond the baseline protected time for teachers and students while striving to meet the developmental needs of teachers and students.

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