Did you know that largely because of the school’s longer instructional hours in a day, students at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School in Ascot will be spending up to five and a half weeks less days in school than their Queensland public school counterparts this school year?
The Christmas holiday for students at St Margaret’s will commence on 21 November 2024, giving them almost three weeks of extra vacation before public schools start break on December 13. Total school hours for the year, however, remain comparably similar to public school hours because of the longer days.
From Monday to Thursday, school hours at St Margaret’s run from 8:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. and Friday hours are 8:20 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. — that means students study for a total of 34 hours and 40 minutes in a standard week.
Students at St Margaret’s will spend 171 days in school this year. Students at other private schools such as Marist College Ashgrove or St Peters Lutheran in Indooroopilly will likewise spend less than 180 days in school, as independent schools traditionally align their schedules around the needs of their students, school communities, and activities calendar for the year.
A spokesperson from Independent Schools Queensland stated that historically, the shorter terms at some private schools were to accommodate boarding students travelling from afar. Whilst this is still the case for many institutions, the spokesman added that there are other factors like overall campus time and school activities that determine term length.
In contrast, Queensland public school students will spend 199 days in school this year.
The significantly shortened academic calendar at St Margaret’s and some other elite private schools is perceived to be creating an imbalance between public and private institutions and causing logistical challenges for some families.
There are parents who struggle to coordinate work leave, childcare help from relatives, and vacation plans with friends to accommodate the extra time off.
At the same time, numerous rural families purposefully send their children to prestigious Brisbane boarding schools so they can return home for holidays several weeks earlier than if they attended their local public schools.
Although private schools maintain their abbreviated terms to serve the needs of their student population, the significant discrepancy continues to elicit mixed reactions from families.
Moving forward, communication and coordination between private and public sectors will be key to finding solutions that bridge divides and create more uniformity in scheduling where possible.