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Some Flemish schools favour adopting Francophone holiday schedule
Flemish education authority GO! (Gemeenschapsonderwijs) has come out in favour of aligning the school calendar with the new schedule adopted by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation since last year.
Changes to the Francophone calendar prompted debate about making a similar adjustment in Flemish education so that the schedules are aligned.
Differences between the two make it difficult for families to plan their holidays, particularly within Brussels which has both Dutch-speaking and Francophone schools.
While French-speaking children returned to school on 28 August, the Flemish school year begins today (1 September).
But while initial reactions to the change in the Francophone schedule were met with insistence that the Flemish one would never adopt the same, GO’s managing director Koen Pelleriaux said there was now sufficient scientific evidence demonstrating the benefits of shorter summer holidays.
Shorter holidays mean less learning loss for young people, Pelleriaux explained, while giving them enough time to rest.
“Nine weeks of summer holidays is a long time. We would prefer to have seven weeks,” said Pelleriaux.
“Scientific studies clearly show that learning loss occurs after long periods, and this learning loss is not linear.”
For the past year, the summer holidays in French-speaking schools have been reduced to seven weeks, while the Toussaint and Carnival holidays have been extended to two weeks.
As a result, French-speaking pupils alternate periods of seven weeks of lessons with two weeks of holidays throughout the year.
Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) remains opposed to a change in the school calendar and the Flemish Education Council (Vlor) and the Flanders Socio-Economic Council (SERV) have also issued unfavourable opinions.
“Everyone agrees that learning is lost during the holidays, but the question is when it happens,” says Weyts.
“I'm not ruling anything out for the future, but before we change anything, we need scientific proof.”