The Australian school year ties in with the calendar year. The year is broken into 4 terms (3 longer ones in Tasmania) of approximately 10 weeks, with about 2 weeks break between terms. The school year ends in December, just before Christmas. We enjoy our summer holiday at this time - usually about 5 or 6 weeks (depending on school or system agreements). This totals about 200 days (minus a few for public holidays). The school system in New Zealand is very similar.
As I taught a year in the USA, I have experience of that school year structure as well. I'd have to say that I'm biased toward Australia's structure, possibly because it's what I have always known.
- I like that it coincides with the calendar year - so feels 'tidy'.
- I like that the end of the year falls around Christmas time - it adds to the celebratory feel.
- I like that we teach for 10 weeks and then have two weeks off - this helps to break the year up into tidy segments and provides time for rejuvenation.
When I taught in a private school in the USA I felt like I was constantly working. I had a break for Christmas and Spring Break but these breaks didn't coincide with the school terms. I found it really strange to finish one term on a Friday and start a new term the following Monday. Because of the nature of my visa, I didn't get to enjoy the long summer break that is the bonus of teaching in the USA. I arrived 10 days before my start date and left 10 days after my finish date. My experience of teaching in the USA required a lot of adaptation and I don't think I quite achieved it in the year I had. I think I just generally like how 'tidy' the Australian system is in terms of organisation and rejuvenation.
What do you see as the pros and cons of these school year structures?
What is the school year structure like in your country (other than Australia, New Zealand, USA)?