Local Authorities has a duty to set school term and holiday dates for community, voluntary controlled, community special schools and maintained nurseries in its area as per Section 32 of the Education Act 2002. In foundation, voluntary aided and foundation special schools, this duty rests with governing bodies and for academies and free schools this sits with the CEO or Trust.
Once agreed by Cabinet, school term dates for Waltham Forest are found here.
Schools have a statutory obligation to open for at least 380 sessions or 190 days during any school year to educate their pupils.
The terms dates that Waltham Forest Council provides ensure that the minimum level of ‘pupil days’ are reached by working to a 195 day academic year. This allows schools to allocate up to 5 INSET days (staff training days) each academic year. The date for INSET days are set by individual schools, however the Council provides recommended dates for INSET days based on the principle that when setting term dates schools should avoid weeks of less than three days. This principle is to support good attendance of pupils and quality learning outcomes.
Following consultation, which took place seven years ago, Cabinet agreed that standard school closures should not take place for the religious festivals of Eid-ul fitr, Diwali and Guru Nanak. However, schools can use their INSET days to close for these days after consultation with their school community.
The Council, in partnership with SACRE , continues to issue guidance to governing bodies on consulting with their school communities on religious holidays and on how best to teach pupils about the significance of particular religious festivals, within the schools that choose to remain open during a religious festival.
Waltham Forest Admissions team complete a term time date consultation with schools in May of each year. These dates take into consideration the term dates set by neighbouring boroughs and includes term dates for two academic years. This approach allows both schools and families with their planning.
Views are sought from headteachers, governors and trade unions from maintained nurseries, primary, secondary and special schools.
In September each year the Council Cabinet is then asked to agree the term dates for the next academic year and agree in principle the dates for academic year following.
Under Schedule 16 paragraph 3 of the Deregulation Act 2015 Section 32 is amended passing the responsibility for fixing term dates onto the governing body of schools. However, this provision has not yet been implemented and so the local authority retains statutory responsibility for the setting of school terms.
Following the Waltham Forest Council Cabinet meeting on the 9 December 2014, it was agreed that should the statutory duty be removed from Local Authorities Waltham Forest Council will continue to provide guidance to schools on recommended school holiday patterns for schools to adopt.