An adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron has said that school holidays in Britain should be shortened as a way to assist poorer children.
Frank Field told The Times newspaper he is calling for the school year to be broken into four or five terms, with shorter breaks.
?Long holidays damage those who are already disadvantaged. They drop behind, they are not being read to, or tutored or talked to in the same way. They have often fallen behind by the beginning of the school year,? the veteran Labour MP told the newspaper.
He also proposes that women should be given up to 25,000 pounds in advance child benefit payments to allow them to stay at home to look after young children.
Field?s initial proposals come as ministers finalise cuts. The Times said it has learnt that under plans being discussed by the Treasury, child benefit would be withdrawn for older teenagers.
The six-week summer break ? which The Times said dates to a time when children were employed as fruit pickers ? is ?out of kilter with mums working?, it quoted Field as saying. ?The parents? groups I have met have all said they dread the summer holidays and would like more equal terms. We should be responding to what parents want.?
He said the shape of the school year would be included in the interim report on his Review on Povery and Life Chances. He concludes that children?s development is affected more by what goes on at home than at school.