The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society says it would lose £1 million if Welsh Government plans to cut the summer school holidays to five weeks go ahead.

The society says it is strongly opposed to the proposal to amend the school term dates in Wales, saying these changes would create serious financial harm to the Royal Welsh Show, which takes place during the first week of the school summer holidays.

Under new proposals by the Welsh Government, the summer break could be reduced by one week, meaning schools would be open during the Royal Welsh Show in July.

The show is a highlight for many families and young people, especially across rural Wales.

The society says that, as one of our major cultural festivals, the school holidays should embrace events such as this as they are vitally important for our culture and the Welsh language.

Almost a quarter of a million people visit the Royal Welsh Show annually and it is considered to be the largest agricultural show of its kind in Europe. The economic impact of the event is in excess of £40 million and there is approximately £10 million visitor spend during the event itself.

While the RWAS is not against the principle of modifying the school year and understands the sentiment behind the proposals, the society says it is asking the government to reconsider their proposed dates so that major events such as the Royal Welsh Show are always in the summer holidays.

Impact on school children and staff

In a statement, the RWAS says: “We are extremely concerned about the impact these changes will have, including taking away the ability for young people, families, teachers, and school staff to attend the show which represents a large proportion of our visitor profile.

“In addition, thousands of children compete at the Royal Welsh Show each year, in both young farmer competitions and young handler and junior classes. This proposed change would remove the opportunity for young people to compete at the show, and to learn and showcase their skills.”

Financial loss and major implications

The RWAS says preliminary calculations show that the changes would lead to a loss of income in excess of £1 million, from reduced gate sales, membership, and camping revenue.

The changes would also lead to reduced attendance, affecting the trade for exhibitors and catering vendors.

The society also relies on almost 1,000 volunteers to stage the Royal Welsh Show each year, many of these are families and school teachers who would not be able to attend the show if these proposals come into effect.

Impact on our culture and the Welsh language

The RWAS adds: “We are proud that the Royal Welsh Show is one of Wales’s leading national events in celebrating our unique culture and language.

“According to census data, 43 per cent of workers in the agricultural industry speak Welsh, a percentage well above the average within the general population of 19 per cent.

"Therefore, there is a strong connection between the future of agriculture and the future of the language.

“Events such as the Royal Welsh Show are fundamentally important to promoting the industry and bridging the divide between urban and rural communities.

"As a charity, we are actively engaging more with the public, creating a better awareness of the importance and wider value of Welsh agriculture. We are extremely concerned that these changes could harm the future success of the show, thus having a major long-term impact on our culture and the prosperity of the language.”

The RWAS says it is in dialogue with Education Minister, Jeremy Miles and is urging supports to have their say on a Welsh Government consultation into the proposals, which runs until 12 February.

The proposals will come into effect from September 2025 if given backing and would see a week taken from the start of the summer break and added to the October break, so that ‘staff and learners get more time to rest during the long autumn term’.