Term Date Trial


Eastern Learning Alliance is conducting a trial whereby we are shortening the Autumn term – we will be extending the October half term by two days and breaking up for Christmas three days earlier.

The teaching hours this creates (referred to as “disaggregated” time) will be used to provide a variety of academic support and interventions outside of the normal school day, spread across the school year.  Each school in the Trust is developing its own plans as to how best to use this time.

This section of our website outlines the context and thinking behind this trial, together with how we are evaluating it.  We will be updating the information on this site (for example the FAQ and Evaluation sections) as we develop our plans and more information becomes available.


The importance of academic intervention and extra-curricular programmes

Currently, the extra-curricular and academic intervention students receive across ELA’s schools outside the school day is staffed based primarily on volunteer teacher time.

As a Trust, we believe strongly in making sure this provision can continue, and in trying to enhance it year on year. This is for many reasons, but in summary we want to prioritise these programmes for these reasons:

  • Academic intervention
    We are proud of how our schools are viewed and the educational outcomes our students achieve. We know from monitoring individual pupil progress that much of this success is down to high quality 1:1 and small group provision being offered across the course of the school year, outside of the school day, to augment the core curriculum. Research undertaken by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) shows that students in receipt of small group/1:1 tuition make an average of 4 and 5 months’ additional progress respectively, across the course of one academic year. As these taught sessions do not currently form part of teachers’ directed time, we rely on teaching staff volunteering to run them. This means we are not currently able to consistently staff the sessions, guarantee the provision to those who need it, or robustly monitor the delivery of these sessions.
  • Extra-curricular provision
    There is research evidencing that access to strong extra-curricular provision throughout a young person’s time at school is linked to better life chances, including a higher probability of progressing to higher education and being in employment, as well as higher levels of participation in sports throughout their lives (see the Education Policy Institute report below). The Social Mobility Commission report, also below, provides a range of evidence regarding the wider benefits of access to strong extra-curricular provision. We are absolutely committed to offering sector-leading programmes in these areas, and to making these offers as inclusive as possible.

Once we had decided that protecting this provision and seeking to enhance the offer in all our schools was a priority, we considered ways in which this could be achieved.

Teacher recruitment and retention

We believe the foundation for achieving excellent educational outcomes for our children is ensuring they are taught by highly qualified and engaged subject experts.  Our staff are our greatest asset.

As you will be aware, we are in the midst of a national crisis with regards to teacher recruitment and retention. In 2021/22, 44,000 teachers left the profession for reasons other than retirement; many of whom cited workload (average 49.4 hours per week for a member of teaching staff) and the inflexibility of teaching as a profession compared to others.

Teaching staff are contracted to work 1,265 hours per year. As discussed above, the average classroom teacher works a very large number of unpaid hours in addition to this every year. A recent report confirms that teachers work more ‘unpaid overtime’ than any other profession.

As such, we were presented with a challenge: we are certain that protecting and improving our current intervention and extra-curricular offer is in the best interests of the young people in our schools for the reasons outlined above. We are equally certain that asking staff to continue to work unpaid hours in the context of a national teacher recruitment crisis would not just be unwise, but it would sit in direct contradiction to our commitment to protecting and promoting the wellbeing of our staff body.

Term Date Trial – 2024/25

As a result of all the thinking above, the Trust executive took the decision to trial a system for the 2024/25 academic year whereby students’ October half term holiday is extended by two days, and the Christmas break is extended by three days, with a view to reallocating these staff hours across the full academic year. These are known as ‘disaggregated days’.

‘Disaggregated days’ refer to days where the school is closed, and teachers’ hours from those days can be moved to other points in the school year. Sometimes schools use these hours as training sessions for staff after school. Instead of this, across the ELA teachers will be asked to work the equivalent hours running clubs and interventions across the whole year.

This means that teachers still work all their annual contracted hours, with students in school for fewer days. The hours that teachers would have worked on those days in October and December will be reallocated across the full academic year to improve the wider provision for students, using paid teacher time.

We chose to keep all of these days in the autumn term for a number of reasons. The second autumn half term is consistently cited by staff as the most challenging section of the academic year. Student and staff absence peaks at this point in the year, and staff report student productivity in the final days of term to be very low. It is our intention to use this staff time in a much more productive way, by asking all of our teaching staff to spread these hours across the full academic year, with a focus on student facing sessions as above.

Each school will develop its own approach to how it uses these hours, and will communicate the details of these enhanced offers with parents directly in advance of September.


In this section we are collating relevant research and press coverage related to the disaggregated days trial:


We have spent significant time considering the best ways in which we can measure the impact of the trial. We are in the process of working on this with our trustees, and will undertake the work alongside our Local Governing Bodies. This webpage will be updated once the trial commences with key evaluation information.

The impact measures will include analysis of:

  • Extra-curricular provision
  • Intervention provision
  • Student and staff attendance
  • Staff feedback
  • Parent feedback
  • Student feedback
  • Student outcomes
  • Staff recruitment and retention statistics
  • Governor monitoring reports


As soon as schools are able to provide this information they will do so: as offers are contingent on staffing this will be following the completion on our work in terms of timetabling and staffing for September. Parents will receive plans before the end of the academic year.

No – ELA have clear plans in place to ensure students who are entitled to free school meals receive them on all disaggregated days.

Yes – academy freedoms allow all academies in England to organise their own term dates.

ELA have plans in place to ensure that they work with parents to provide age-appropriate childcare opportunities for those who need support with this.

The trial will run for the full academic year 2024/25. An interim evaluation will take place at the end of the autumn term 2024 to allow for a timely decision regarding 2025/26 term dates. Following the publication of student outcomes in summer 2025 a decision will be made with regards to future academic years.

The ELA executive and heads of school will evaluate the evidence bases cited above, including staff, student and parent feedback, and will make a recommendation regarding a final decision. LGBs and trustees will then be consulted on the recommendation before confirming a final decision.

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