Holidays? You jest

Jean Maskell

In case any headteachers don't know, life goes on in a typical council office through the summer. We've been dealing with the letter that the Department for Education and Employment sent out around July 25 about the funding which will flow from the "New Deal For Schools".

Your local education authority should have consulted you and we're supposed to have submitted bids by September 1. I'm still rubbing the bruise on my forehead where my head hit the desk.

If one more person says "It must be quiet in the holidays" I'll jump. No, not from the window-ledge, but from the top of my in-basket - it's higher.

All the big capital works jobs have been done these past few weeks; the lucky students who are the last to get "free" higher education have mobbed the awards section; summer play schemes have been in full swing; adult education publicity launched; exam results analysed; and the youth service operating as usual 50 weeks a year.

School holidays are of little significance to the rest of the council and corporate work on urban regeneration and external funding, which involves education more and more, is relentlessly pursued all year round.

The building control people told me that arrangements to accommodate 240 primary pupils in a new building were off. So I had 10 working days to obtain mobile classrooms, dig foundations, supply electricity, gas and water, get planning permission, inform councillors and council committees, move all the furniture and equipment, set up a parents' information line and deal with the media. Oh, and find about Pounds 100,000.

In nine months, I've had nine days off but in November when my long-awaited holiday in Florida arrives and when I'm clinging, terrified, to a death defying roller-coaster ride in a theme park (which is not really that different from being an LEA officer) no doubt a headteacher will complain that I'm never around when I'm needed.

Our bid for "New Deal" money has been done and submitted. And fair dos, some headteachers have seen the letter and phoned in. But, and I don't want to worry you in your first few days, I wonder if that bid for your school is in?

Jean Maskell works for Liverpool education authority

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