Ultimately, the main objective of the school leaders is to develop a calendar that is focused on student learning and the responsibility of setting the calendar remains with the school leadership. However, the group agreed that the three parent-teacher-student organisations (i.e. the PSO for ACS Cobham) would be consulted ahead of releasing the academic calendar in the future.
We would like to thank parents for having sent through feedback to the PSO – this is most valuable for us and the school. We would also like to thank Diane and the HoS team for having met with us, explained the process and listened to the concerns our respondents had raised. We look forward to continued dialogue with them.
After following up with senior officials at ACS Ltd about the draft 2019/20 ACS academic calendar many of the PSO’s recommendations have been incorporated into the calendar for the next calendar year. Specifically starting school the week before the long weekend in August so that the October break does not align with the British school holidays and removing the extra days at the February break to add them to the start of the December holidays.
We will continue to work with the administration to provide parent input on future calendars – no calendar will please everyone but we are excited that parent views were taken into account in adjusting the calendar for 2019/20.
Following the changes made to the calendar for the 2018/19 academic year, representatives from the three parent-teacher-student organisations from Cobham (“PSO”), Egham (“PTO”) and Hillingdon (“PTSA”) met with Diane Hren (ACS Group Education Strategy Director) and the Heads of Schools (“HoS”) on 26 February 2018 at ACS Egham to both better understand how ACS develops the calendar and to present parent feedback. The minutes from this meeting are below and these have been reviewed by Diane and the HoS team.
As background, Diane and the HoS team explained to us that the calendar is the same for all three ACS UK campuses (Cobham, Egham & Hillingdon). Amongst other factors, this is done to facilitate collaborative programs offered by multiple campuses for students (such as sports competitions) and for teachers (such as shared training & development programs during in-service days). The calendar is developed and recommended by the HoS team and approved by the ACS Group leadership team.
Diane presented to us the calendar development principles & guidelines that are followed by ACS. First and foremost, the main criterion for developing the calendar is student learning. The primary aim is to ensure the continuity, efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning. The school always aims to exceed the minimum number of instructional days in the school year as per their accreditation bodies (the target is set by the accreditation bodies), with the goal of then dividing these days into approximately equal semesters and quarters. The school also ensures that there is time for teacher pre- and post-planning, as well as avoiding school weeks which are only comprised of one or two school days (due to associated attendance concerns). It was strongly emphasized that the calendar is set primarily considering educational objectives.
We presented a summary of the parent feedback on the 2018/19 calendar. A copy of all unabridged feedback received by the PSO was also given to the school representatives. We received written feedback from 74 families (there are 897 families overall at ACS Cobham). A number of other families also gave their PSO representatives oral feedback, which corroborates the written feedback.
Alignment of half-terms with local schools:
Shortened December break / Lengthened February break:
Start of school one week later:
Number of school days
Moving all in-service days adjacent to holidays
Timing of calendar release
Trunk or Treat