THE former lead councillor for schools on the Island has blasted the decision to scrap the two-week October half term without consulting parents as 'alarming and disrespectful'.

The decision was made following feedback from headteachers and Island schools and their wish for a longer Christmas holiday.

At last week's cabinet meeting, the term dates for the 2022/23 school year were unanimously voted through, reverting the school calendar to a one-week October half term with a two-week, three-weekend Christmas holiday instead.

Seven of the ten headteacher responses felt the two-week October holiday needed to be reviewed, so further consultation with schools was undertaken.

The two-week autumn half-term was introduced in the 2019/20 school year hoping to improve the attendance of pupils during the middle of the autumn term.

However, it had been met with mixed reactions, with one school saying there was sparse evidence anything had changed.

In the second consultation, 23 responses of 31 supported extending the Christmas break with 14 of those wanting to return to the one-week October holiday.

The lack of parental consultation was raised as an issue by the corporate scrutiny committee before the decision was made but Cllr Debbie Andre, the cabinet member for children's education, said there was an expectation that schools would consult with parents with schools.

Now, the decision to not speak directly to parents has been challenged by Cllr Andre's predecessor Cllr Paul Brading, who said he was very concerned it was thought right and proper by the new administration to make the important decision without talking to parents.

He said: "The decision to follow Cllr Andre's belief and remove the two-week October half term in this way is alarming and disrespectful."

Cllr Brading was in the post when the two-week half-term was introduced and approved in 2017, after consultation received 1,877 responses - 1,790 from parents of children at school.

Figures from the consultation show 926 respondents were in favour of shortening the summer holidays to establish a two-week half-term break, against 632, with 943 people supporting the break in October as opposed to February.

Cllr Brading said following the implementation there had been many positive comments from schools and feedback from parents and the main issue that seemed to be raised from the first consultation this year was the fact that headteachers were concerned about the shortening of the Christmas holidays.

He said: "This decision shows a total lack of respect for the views of parents and the wider community.

"Ironically, I have received an email on another matter from Cllr Karl Love, cabinet member for adult social care. He states the new administration is 'increasing community inclusion, participation and engagement'. The way this decision has been made sadly shows they are doing exactly the opposite."