EDUCATION

Spain: paying a high price for the long summer break

Parents say three months’ vacation is too long, with kids disconnecting from their studies

Could Spain’s three-month summer vacations be harming children’s studies?
Could Spain’s three-month summer vacations be harming children’s studies?Julian Rojas

Along with the Germans, French and Danish, Spaniards enjoy the longest holidays in Europe – albeit in return for work hours that are longer than those of their neighbors. But according to Carlos Martínez, the head of the IMF Business School, this stoppage could be putting their children’s education at risk. That’s according to data from the EU’s education portal, Eurydice, and online travel company Expedia.

Spain’s schools close in mid-June, and do not reopen until mid-September. In Germany, the summer holidays often last just six weeks

Spain’s schools close in mid-June, and do not reopen until mid-September: going for three months without attending class like that can set children’s education back, says Martínez. In Germany and most other countries in northern Europe, the summer holidays often last just six weeks.

In some countries, shorter summer holidays are balanced out by longer breaks over Christmas and Easter, as in France, which has 62 days of vacation, including the summer break, or Turkey, which has just 19. Italy has a long summer holiday, as well as a month of vacations over the rest of the year.

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Martínez says that growing numbers of organizations in Spain are calling for schools to reduce the length of their summer holidays. Concapa, the nationwide organization that represents Catholic families, says there is evidence children simply forget how to study and that the long holidays also impacts on working parents who are unable to take time off. At best, if they can afford it, they have to send their children to summer camps or abroad. Ceapa, another nationwide organization that represents parents of school children, is also calling for a debate on changing the school calendar that would involve shortening the summer holidays and creating other breaks throughout the year.

Growing numbers of organizations in Spain are calling for schools to reduce the length of their summer holidays

Spaniards enjoy Europe’s longest holidays, according to online travel company Expedia, which carried out a survey showing that Spaniards get on average 30 vacation days a year, alongside France, and way ahead of Ireland, which has just 21, or Japan, with 11. But the survey also found that Spaniards work longer hours than other Europeans. Asian countries, according to Martínez, have fewer vacations and bank holidays. For example, the Japanese have between 10 and 20 days, while in China those figures fall to between five and 15.

Spain also tops the list of bank holidays, says Martínez, citing a report by a national commission to rationalize working hours. The report says that Spain has 10 national bank holidays, with each region and city having two each of their own. In Greece, the total number of bank holidays is 12, in France, 11, Germany and Finland 10, Portugal nine, the United Kingdom eight, and the Netherlands seven.