Families' frustration over different Norfolk and Suffolk school term dates

Walking to school and family on beach

Spring half-term and Easter dates fall on different weeks in Norfolk and Suffolk next year. - Credit: PA/Getty

Families with links to Norfolk and Suffolk are facing holiday disruption after it emerged that school term dates in the two counties will be different for the upcoming year. 

Parents who live close to the border or who work in one county but have children at school in another will be left with difficult decisions to make.

While school term dates can often vary a day or two between the two counties, some term dates for the 2021/22 year fall on completely different weeks. 

Parents drop off pupils at primary school

School term times will differ in Norfolk and Suffolk next year despite efforts to dates coordinate between councils. - Credit: PA

In Norfolk, the spring half term break begins on February 14, however in Suffolk it’s a week later from February 21. The Easter break begins in Norfolk from April 4, a week earlier than it does in Suffolk. 

Caroline Groom, who works at a Suffolk school but lives in Norfolk, said: “There are a lot of school staff who live in Norfolk and yet send their children to school in neighbouring Suffolk and vice versa. 

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“Drastically different holiday dates means that these staff are unable to spend the holidays with their children and they cannot go on holiday together as a family. 

Teacher marking books

Teachers working in one county but with children attending schools in another could face miss family time due to differing Norfolk-Suffolk term dates. - Credit: PA

“If they do wish to go on holiday that week, they will have to take their children out of school in term time and risk being fined for taking unpaid leave and that is only if their school allows them to do that. It also causes immense problems for parents with childcare.”

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"It's never happened in the time I have worked here," said Ed, a teacher at Harleston in Norfolk, who chose not to give his surname, and who has written to his MP to raise the issue.

His wife works in a school at Thurston in Suffolk and have children attending school at Botesdale, just over the Norfolk-Suffolk border from Diss.

“It’s caught a lot of people on the hop," he said. 

Norfolk County Council said it participates in an annual regional meeting to discuss future term dates with a view to “establishing a consistent pattern of dates across the area”.

A spokesman said it looked to coordinate preferred term dates with surrounding counties, but "ultimately each school sets the final term dates themselves".

Pupils at Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston

Families of children attending school close to the Norfolk-Suffolk border like Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston could be affected by different term dates. - Credit: DNEAT

Suffolk County Council said: "We try to align them with neighbouring councils. This isn’t always possible and alignment with one council can mean a difference with another. 

"In addition, some schools choose different dates so we have an example in the north of the county where a school in a trust that straddles the border has chosen different dates as is their right.” 

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