Our time off

25th July 1997 at 01:00
Founded in 627AD, St Peter's School, York, is one of the oldest independent schools in Europe. It has 480 pupils, boys and girls aged 13-18. Georgina Terry, 32, has been head of art at St Peter's for the past four years and before that was artist-in-residence at Christ's Hospital in Sussex.

"I spend the first week of the holiday taking down the A-level exam work. Most of the students make life-size sculptures, massive things, and it's a big job.

"Then it's off to CCF [Combined Cadet Force] camp for a really high-adrenaline week. When I first arrived at St Peter's, there I was in my red lipstick, petrified of heights and things like that.

"The children love it that I'm into it, to see me having a go at everything. Last year they had me abseiling and rock climbing and doing night manoeuvres in all the gear. I've got the uniform, and it's just brilliant fun.

"But then I'm heading straight off to California with my sister, Jules, for three weeks. We're hiring a soft-topped Pontiac - my sister's a businesswoman and she likes flashy cars - and we're going to drive to San Francisco from Los Angeles, along the coast.

"At home I drive a Ford Escort that's falling apart. I put all my money into my holidays, and I like to travel with Jules. She's 30 and blonde, a bit wild and very entertaining. We're quite opposite but good for each other.

"One year we went white-water rafting down the Zambezi for three or four weeks. Our holidays tend to be very physical; that's how we relax. We've also been to India for a month. We hired an old Morris Oxford and a driver and stayed in palaces. I wanted to visit temples and look at art; she wanted to visit the markets. We went to silk factories and tried on saris.

"The year before, I went to China, travelling for days and days on little trains. I find it refreshing to do all this, meeting people from all walks of life; it gives you an insight, and it's good for my work. After going to India, for example, I've been much more experimental in my approach, using materials in a more diverse way, going to municipal dumps and scrap merchants.

"When we come back I'll go to London and visit all the galleries. The work we do here is very contemporary, and I like to keep in touch with everything that's going on.

"After that I'm off to Shropshire to spend a week with mum and dad. They live in a two-up, two-down cottage and dad's building an extension, so I'm going to help him.

"I believe in positive motivation in my job and the holidays feed that. Since I have been here, every summer I have gone somewhere and done something with it."

Andrew Springgay, 15, has taken 10 GCSEs and will move on to the St Peter's sixth form. He lives in York and has been at the school since he was eight.

"I'm doing an exchange this summer with Selbourne College in South Africa,south of Durban. A pupil from there will come back in our Christmas term.It's a boarding school and it hasn't changed since the 1950s, I'm told, except they don't have the cane and it's mixed-race. So you have "fags" - pupils to run round after you.

"I'll be doing normal lessons, but I'm really going for the games. I'm a keen rugby player. I'm in the First XV and would like to play at county level. I was nearly chosen, but I had an injury, so I'd like to get into a club for next summer.

"I'm also keen on politics, so I want to go because of the end of apartheid, to see a new country. I want to study PPE [politics, philosophy and economics] at Mansfield College, Oxford and it's a first step to independence, to university. I'm a bit nervous. I've never been away from my parents for more than a week, so I think I might be a bit homesick.

"I look forward to the holiday. Normally I go out a couple of times in the first week, ring up friends, and then it gets a bit boring. I get under mum's feet. I've got a little brother; he's only five and he comes into my room in the morning and wakes me up. That's the best reason to go to South Africa.

"I do help a bit around the house and I try to find odd jobs. Last year I worked in a garage. First I'm going on holiday with mum and dad to Florida and we'll visit Disney. I like water sports, jet skiing and windsurfing, messing around in the water. I'm not into sunbathing much. We normally go to quiet places in Europe, and I like the different food.

"Next year I think I'll go for a Barry Daniel Award. That was set up after one of our teachers was killed on an expedition in Norway and it's for a good travelling cause. I'd like to link it into a geography project and go to somewhere unexplored in Russia or Mongolia."

Elaine williams

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