Nearly half of all Flemish people would prefer to see summer school holidays shortened while a week was added to autumn and/or spring holiday, according to an opinion poll.
At present, the summer school holiday starts on 1 July and runs until 31 August, allowing for weekends. For 48% of those polled, that’s too long, and those people would prefer to curtail the summer holiday in preference to a longer holiday in spring – referred to in the Flemish system as the ‘crocus holiday’ – and/or in autumn.
The poll, known in Dutch as the Grote Peiling, was carried out on behalf of Het Laatste Nieuws, VTM Nieuws, Le Soir and RTL, but the summer holiday question only concerned Flemish respondents.
In Belgium, education is a matter for the language communities rather than the federal or regional governments, although the Flemish government brings the two together.
And in any case, the schools of the French community have already decided to cut down on summer holidays from 2022, in favour of longer breaks at other times.
That said, not everyone on the other side of the language border is in favour. According to another poll, 46% of people on the French-speaking side were against the change, and only 38% in favour.
According to education experts, a long summer holiday is no friend to children with an educational deficit: more than eight weeks out of school simply makes matters worse.
On the other hand, a short mid-term break in spring or autumn barely gives children enough time to come down from the tension of term-time, and an extension would be beneficial.
However Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) is not prepared to address the issue at this time.
“Flanders is open to debate, but will not conduct it in the middle of this corona crisis, which already demands a lot from the education field,” his spokesperson said.
“If we’re to have this debate, it has to be done properly and thoroughly.”