No wonder we’re so frazzled we fall over the finishing line

Of course, we can’t wait for the summer holiday – but unfortunately, the closer it gets the more we find that we’re snowed under trying to tie up the loose ends of the academic year

Michael Tidd

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Are you feeling exhausted? Of course you are. It’s the latter half of July and we’re all on our knees: that’s the way of the system. Somehow I manage to forget from year to year just how beaten I feel by the time the summer holidays come around, and yet here I am again suddenly remembering quite how draining it feels.

Is it the knowledge of the impending break that makes each day seem so much more exhausting? Or is it the nature of what we do in these final weeks? Somehow it seems that we work ourselves up into such a frenzy that by the time the final day eventually rolls around, we’re about ready to drop. Surely if it weren’t for the holidays, we wouldn’t end up this way?

First, there’s the rigmarole of assessment and tracking: everyone racing through the final bits of the curriculum before the ultimate judgements have to be made. After all, these single columns of numbers on the tracking grid could be all that separate you from a pay rise or a P45 come appraisal time.

Then there are sets of assessment tasks; marking another set of test papers on a glorious day when you’d much rather be out playing rounders. And, by contrast, there is the stress of pulling together a sports day, which inevitably means a last-minute cancellation because of rain and scrabbling around for a back-up date.

There’s bound to be a falling out at some point: added to the usual quibbles over the hall timetable (hell hath no fury like a Year 6 teacher trying to pull together the leavers’ assembly) is the constant shuffling for space on the playground and the school field.

Meanwhile, you just need another hour or two to finalise the reports that you feel like you’ve been writing for weeks. And worse, you’ve left until last those two children for whom you just can’t find anything to write about. How have they managed to last the year doing so little of any note? Will their parents notice if their reports end up just the same as last year’s?

Not content with pulling together all the loose ends for one academic year, it’s also time to start preparing for the next one. Transition sessions give you a chance to spot the new troublemakers who will replace this year’s imps, but also bring long to-do lists of tray labels and display boards. Then there’s a curriculum to plan (why is it never as easy as just repeating last year’s?) and for some lucky souls the chance to act as a removals team amid relocations and debates about whether scissors belong to the classroom or the teacher.

I’ve not even mentioned yet the end-of-year parents’ meetings, the final assemblies, the secondary transfer meetings, the nursery visits, attendance awards, house trophies – and don’t even get me started on trawling through Year 6 test papers to find marking errors.

On top of that, we’ve managed to exhaust the children, too. As the temperature outside is rising, school buildings manage to trap the heat like old-fashioned pressure cookers – just at the time when we hope the children will cope with last-minute changes of routine. Is it any wonder we’re all ready for a break by the end of it?

It’s 25 July for us. I’m jealous of those of you already over the finishing line; sympathetic towards those with a longer final straight. Let’s just all get there and collapse. By August it’ll all seem a distant memory.


Michael Tidd is deputy head at Edgewood Primary School in Nottinghamshire. He tweets @MichaelT1979

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Michael Tidd picture

Michael Tidd

Michael Tidd is headteacher at East Preston Junior School, in West Sussex

Find me on Twitter @MichaelT1979

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