CHILDREN and families in Wirral could be enjoying the Easter holidays for the last time.
Radical reforms of the current school system are being put out for consultation by the local education authority.
If approved by members of the public, governors and teachers, Wirral would be one of the first places in the country to abolish the current three-term system in favour of six terms.
Controversially, it would spell the end of the Easter holidays because, although the children would still be given a break in March or April, the term system would not necessarily follow the Church calendar.
Wirral is taking the lead in responding to new guidelines issued by an independent commission set up by the Local Government Association.
The LGA believes raising standards in schools will be helped by terms of equal lengths.
The organisation claims it would reduce stress, ease the transition to further and higher education, and move exams away from the traditional "hay fever season" which affects many youngsters.
A council spokeswoman said a period of consultation would begin in the coming weeks, with the results presented to cabinet before any final decision is made.
It is not yet known what will happen with Roman Catholic schools, governed in Wirral by the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
Diocesan director of schools Michael Clark said: "While appreciating the thrust of the case for a six-term year, the diminution of Easter is a real problem for Catholic schools, as many like pupils to remain with them for as long as possible during Holy Week in order to be prepared for Good Friday.
"At present, Easter Week is also a time when many young people participate in pilgrimages to Lourdes and clearly this link to Easter would be jeopardised.
"It may also be argued that a full holiday around Easter offers families more time to come together and to worship together and to reflect upon the true meaning of Easter.
"Legally, the opportunities for Catholic schools to have a long Easter holiday will still remain.
"While the Diocese will clearly lend its support to a governing body minded to take this action, the balance of our recommendation, albeit reluctantly, is that Catholic schools should match the holiday patterns in other sectors and the practicalities of not doing so will all too easily set up a range of problems for staff and pupils."
Union leaders have also shared concern about the loss of Easter.
NUT secretary Pete Bishop added: "Easter is a significant traditional festival for many and reducing it down to two days is incredible.
"This will have a major impact on pupils, their families and local industry.
"There is no actual evidence to prove that making holidays shorter will make children smarter."
The planned new pattern is for two terms of about seven weeks in the autumn, with a two-week break between in October, followed by four terms of about six weeks each.
There would also be a two-week break over Christmas, and summer holidays would be no shorter than five weeks.