Auckland principal calls for shorter summer holiday, but admits 2020/21 break was needed

An Auckland school principal said while he believes school summer holidays should be shortened, the almost two-month-long break was particularly needed this year.

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor spoke to The AM Show as schools prepare to head back to the classroom for the new year.

Host Duncan Garner said he thought the school holidays were far too long, and O'Connor agreed.

"They are, I'd say that and my boys expect me to say that when I head to assembly this morning… The issue with the length of school holidays is the lost learning. When you have too long of a break you have to go back and reteach and try and get up to speed. So shorter breaks are proven to be much better."

He said the only issue is that senior students can't go back to school until they find out their previous exam results. For NCEA students, their 2020 results came back less than two weeks ago on January 21.

However O'Connor did note he thought the longer break was particularly appreciated this year, after 2020 which was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Everyone's ready [to go back]. The summer break was needed, I think a long summer break this year was, if we are going to have one, let's have it this year after COVID. But now there is high motivation, plenty of smiles and people are just wanting to get on with it and get into routines and teaching face-to-face."

But despite the eagerness to get back in the classroom, O'Connor said they are still having to prepare for if New Zealand enters another lockdown.

"We are [preparing]. As we finished the year I said to teachers: 'you take your laptop, you take your charger, make sure you courses are prepared for the start of the year'. As we have started up again we have given them the same message."

He said they have also been working to prepare classwork online, the only issue is they now have to teach their incoming students how to use the system.