User:Alan Grant/Temp/RWC - bkgd term dates.doc

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School terms change to fit Rugby World Cup schedule

New Zealand schools have had their term dates changed for 2011 so that the holidays at the end of term three happen as the same time as the final stages of the Rugby World Cup.

The Ministry of Education has told schools to change the dates of the terms. Terms one and two will be longer, and the fourth term shorter. The third term holidays will occur a fortnight later than normal and will run until Labour weekend near the end of October. Term four, which is when senior high school students sit NCEA exams, will be shorter by two weeks. Easter will be in the term one holidays.

The changes have been made to try to ease pressure on traffic flows and public transport during the final stages of the Rugby World Cup, particularly in Auckland which will host both semi-finals, the game to decide third and fourth place, and the final match. The quarter finals in Wellington and Christchurch will be held in the first weekend of the third term holidays. Having the students on holiday will free up capacity on buses and trains, and will also take cars off the roads as children will not be being driven to and from school.

Some principals and teachers are unhappy about the changes, particularly given that teachers will have less time in term four to get students ready for final examinations.

Others however have said that with all the hype for the end the Rugby World Cup, perhaps it is just as well that children will be off school as they might struggle to concentrate on lessons anyway.

There have been mixed reactions from the general public. While some people have said that they think the changes are ‘no big deal’ and that ‘the kids will hardly notice’, others have been angry, seeing the changes as ‘New Zealand’s obsession with rugby over-riding children’s education.’

All state primary, secondary and area schools in New Zealand will have their dates changed, even in areas which are not hosting any Rugby World Cup matches. Private schools, which set their own term dates, can choose whether to follow the national term calendar or not. The principal of Rangi Ruru School in Christchurch, Julie Moor, has already said that her school will have its term three holidays a week earlier than the state schools.