Schools fall in line with four-term model

FOR the first time in Tasmania's education history, the school year will be divided into four terms from tomorrow.

The proposed move created unprecedented divide between principals, teachers and parents over a number of decades, however, the state will now fall in line with the rest of Australia.

Education Minister Nick McKim paved the way for the change in August 2011.

It followed an exhaustive and slightly bumpy consultation process by the Four Term Year Advisory Group, which included representatives from the Education Department, Catholic and independent schools, the University of Tasmania and the Australian Education Union.

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Tourism Industry Council were also involved in the process.

The group found:

•Shorter terms and more frequent term breaks, including a shorter summer break, would benefit students by reducing learning loss over the extended term breaks and during winter, less illness and absenteeism.

•The new four-term model would also better align with the new Australian Curriculum that began rolling out at the start of 2012.

At the end of the consultation process, the majority of the group were in favour of four terms with only the Tourism Industry Council raising concerns about a clash of holidays with other states and the AEU requiring some agreement with the government over the teachers' award.

Mr McKim said this week that arrangements were in place for the start of the school year and four terms.

"I believe that the move to a four-term school year will be in the best interests of students' learning and well-being," he said.

"Parents, teachers, key groups and the broader community have been kept informed on this important change and I'm confident that it will be a smooth transition."

He said a department transition committee had constantly updated schools and parents about the move.

Mr McKim said college teachers were already back at work and kindergarten to grade 10 teachers would return to work today.

The dispute with the union over the teachers' award, which had led to it being dragged through the Industrial Commission, has been rectified and would not result in any reduction in annual leave days for teachers.

Tourism Industry Council chief executive Luke Martin said the state would have to wait and see the impact of four terms.

Mr Martin said he was not opposed to the four terms, however, he expected the holiday periods, specifically the September period, to end up something like Easter when it is difficult and costly to get around.

He said families travelling interstate would probably experience the full and costly impact of multiple states holidaying at the same time.

Opposition education spokesman Michael Ferguson said the Liberal Party led the move to introduce four terms.

He said having four regular, 10-week terms would greatly assist schools to meet the national curriculum.

He added that students and teachers were ready to learn for more of the year and said it would help the government and independent schools to collaborate better.

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