Here are the proposed Bedford school term dates for the 2023/24 academic year

The proposed school term dates for the 2023/24 academic year have been agreed by Bedford Borough Council.
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The set of dates for the 2023/24 school year were produced following a consultation with schools and neighbouring local authorities.

And yesterday (Tuesday, March 29) the Joint Consultative and Negotiating Committee was asked to approve one of the two options put forward for that school year.

Ben Pearson, chief officer for education, SEND & schools at the council, said: "What we considered when we looked at the options was the impact on families.

The proposed school term dates for 2023/24The proposed school term dates for 2023/24
The proposed school term dates for 2023/24

"Particularly families that could have children in school in two different authorities, or work in another authority and have children here or vice versa.

"In particularly it all focuses on February half term where those term dates have been out of kilter [with other authorities].

"That of course, has created real pressure for families.

"The working group unanimously agreed in favour of option two, in which the February half term would be the week beginning February 19, 2024," he said.

Councillor Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North Ward) said: "In all my years of teaching, I never knew a February half term that wasn’t in the week of Valentine’s Day.

"Why have our geographical neighbours gone for a week later, It’s very, very unusual," she said.

Mr Pearson said that one of the reasons was to have an even balance of half terms and of term days throughout the year.

"It never works perfectly, and going for the 19th means there will be six full weeks of education before that half term and the same amount after before we get to Easter," he said.

Deirdre Murphy, National Education Union (NEU) representative said that Cambridgeshire was going for that week.

"My understanding is that Central Beds usually fall in line with us. I don't know what the situation is in Northampton," she said.

"I don’t know about Northampton, all other all other local authorities in the East of England have gone for the 19th of February," Mr Pearson said.

"The only authority that I know at the moment that has chosen the 12th is Buckinghamshire."

Councillor Oliver added: "I think we would be highly unpopular if we stepped out of line, then the 19th, it should be."

Councillor John Wheeler (Conservative, Wootton Ward) moved on to the Christmas holiday. The proposed calendar has this starting on Wednesday, December 20.

"I suspect schools will play around at the edges," he said.

"Finishing on a Friday, giving three weekends is always better thanfinishing midweek," he added.

Mr Pearson said: "Just for clarity, I think everybody, recognises these are advised [dates].

"We cannot force people to take these dates, but where possible we’d like consistency for exactly those reasons around families,

"People will always flex, whether it be teacher training days or those around the start of Christmas or Easter.

"That's up to local schools to do that.

"My plea would always be that schools let everybody know as early as possible, so that families and other schools can plan around if they deviate from this plan," he said.

The committee agreed to accept option two.