Banish the half-term blues

5th November 2004 at 00:00
I hate half-term. The problem is that it usually coincides with a resignation date. The three occasions in the year when teachers can see the escape hatch closing. Cabin fever sets in.

These self-imposed deadlines set headteachers twitching and staff rushing to make hurried decisions that they regret within weeks. I am genuinely pleased when a teacher gains a new post. I see it as a sign that my school has helped them make progress. It creates opportunities for other staff, and occasionally it helps a member of staff find out that the grass is not greener over the hill.

My concern is recruitment. If a teacher is offered a post in October, the earliest I'm likely to start their replacement is in April, or even September, as staff are reluctant to leave classes "high and dry". This fear is well known to heads. Witness the furtive phone calls inviting staff for a "look round" on the last day of half-term.

This prompts me to ask why have resignation dates at all? I have a suggestion: abolish resignation deadlines and replace them with a fixed period of notice.

Just think about it. Senior staff would not block out May to interview.

Schools would not waste money advertising against so many other schools.

Staff would not rush to apply for the wrong jobs. And pupils would have a chance of being taught by a permanent teacher, all year.

I am sure there will be issues created by such a change. Perhaps the notice period would have to be different for senior staff. Perhaps staffing needs in primary schools are different. The methodology for calculating periods of service would have to go.

We all know that change can be challenging but, frankly, staff recruitment is hard enough without such self-imposed restrictions. Can anyone seriously say they would have created this situation if it did not exist? No? Time for it to go then.

Ian Hylan is head of Cox Green school in Maidenhead. Feeling aggrieved? Write us a 400-word piece and get paid as you grumble. Send it to

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