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More stress is just plain DAFT

Like Hilary Chivall, I have given deep thought to reorganising the school year into equal terms of four or five sessions.

The crucial factor she omits is the enormous pressure of the end of term, when in three days teachers struggle to meet everyone else's deadlines as well as their own. (The acronym DAFT for Deadlines At Finish of Term is sufficiently expressive.)

Many of the deadlines are, of course, artificial but the problem is real. Everyone sees the end of term as an opportunity to tie everything up so they can have a "proper break". The tension, though false, is hard to dispel.

As deputy head of a large comprehensive I know the struggle to rationalise my own feelings of incompetence and the hastily-concealed stare of dismay when I reply to hard-working colleagues: "Sorry, not before the end of term". Five ends of term in a year would cause far more stress than anything else I can imagine. Mrs Chivall notes her husband's illness at the end of term: this is widespread in my experience but may be a DAFT phenomenon rather than a length-of-term problem. Let's stick with just three.

MICHAEL H SHAW

283 Perry Street

Billericay

Essex

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