An inset day, originally an acronym for IN-SErvice Training day, and sometimes known as a Baker day, is one of a series of five days in most English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish schools on which school sessions are not required to be run, and the pupils do not attend school, but the staff are required to attend for training or to complete administration tasks.
Inset days were introduced in 1988 under a Conservative government, by the minister then responsible, Kenneth Baker, as part of a series of reforms, including the introduction of the National Curriculum. They were originally, and are still occasionally, referred to as Baker Days, because Kenneth Baker introduced the requirement for teachers to attend training in addition to the 190 days previously required.
Teachers in state schools are required to undertake 5 inset days in addition to the 190 teaching days children are required to be in school. The days are determined by the Local Education Authority, though Academy and Free schools have the freedom to set alternative dates.
This development of teacher training days is thought by some education bodies to cause additional disruption and burdens upon working parents who do not have easy access to flexible alternative third party childcare. Although the 5 training days were introduced as an addition to teachers' attendance days, and the total number of days chidren are required to be in school has not been affected by the introduction of Inset days, the fact that inset days occur in isolation and are not coordinated between schools means that organized childcare provision may not be available as it is in the holidays, meaning that parents must stay home to look after their children. In addition, parents with children at different schools (e.g. primary and secondary) may find that the schools have inset days on different days, further adding to disruption and loss of earnings.
Teachers who are parents themselves may have greater problems than other working parents as they are unable to take ad hoc days off to look after their own children whenever an Inset day is scheduled at their children's school.
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- "Parents 'baffled by Inset days', teachers are told". BBC News.
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- School Inset Days Academic Year Ending July 2013. on Vale of Glamorgan Council website.
- INSET Days – A Pleasure Or A Pain? by Alex Freeman, a freelance writer specialising in parenting and family topics.