Our Time off

22nd August 1997 at 01:00
Hall Cross Comprehensive School in Doncaster has 1,500 pupils aged 13 to 18 who come from the town's centre and southern suburbs. However, like all other schools in the authority, it has been preparing for reorganisation and from September will be an 11 to 18 school on a split site.

John Blount is head of science, his wife is acting head of a middle school (about to be phased out, she is being redeployed) and they have three daughters, aged 18, 15 and 14 who attend Hall Cross.

"I went back to school on the first day of the holiday to wash up. We had a party for the nine staff retiring due to reorganisation - and for all those teachers who had worked at the school since it became a 13 to 18 comprehensive in 1983. I scoured the school for the wine glasses that disappeared into dark corners, each with a tale to tell.

"Then I got on to the holiday companies for late deals. All you need is a phone, a credit card and a lot of patience. I told them we wanted a villa and a pool and we could go immediately; you get huge discounts that way.

"I needed somewhere to go and forget about work and sitting by a pool in my own private grounds in France is the way I like to relax most. My daughters are all very sporty so they just love the swimming, but being a science teacher and very conscious of UV light, I'm awful on a beach.

"My wife and I have both been in the middle of reorganisation. These past months have been taken up with boxes and phone calls - Where is this stuff going? Have we got enough chairs and desks here? It's just going to be good to know what it's like to be normal and not harassed to hell. During term time we just pass each other by; when the holiday starts you think 'Oh, hello! do you live here?' "We're introducing psychology as an A-level from September and I've got to prepare the course, so I took a couple of books with me. But I don't regard that as work because I like reading textbooks, especially when I'm sitting down with a glass of wine.

"We might also take some hotel breaks in Britain. We're members of a hotel club and get two-for-one deals, that kind of thing, all with leisure facilities. It's very relaxing. Last year we went to one in Swindon and used it as a base for trips to the Cotswolds, Bath and Stonehenge. My daughters couldn't believe that we'd dragged them off to look at a pile of rocks - 'Let's get back to the pool', that's what they wanted.

"I'll also spend time at Doncaster Rugby Football as I'm an assistant coach. It's somewhere different with different people."

Catherine Fisher is 16 and will return to school next month for her final A-level year studying French, German, maths and AS-level chemistry.

"I went to Bordeaux to stay with this French boy Julien on an exchange. He's 18 and he came at Easter to stay for a week with my family and a week at my friend Kate's, so we both went to his family together this summer. At Easter he kept making jokes about how pale I am, so half my suitcase was filled up with sun cream.

"I want to improve my French as I'd like to do something with French at university - though I haven't quite decided what that thing is yet. I liked visiting Bordeaux though we avoided the beaches because they were full of German and English tourists.

"I said I would do some work when I got back, but I knew it might go by the board if the weather was nice.

"Some of us are hoping to go camping in the Lakes. There are 15 or 16 in our group of friends at school; we all sort of live around the corner from each other so we visit each other a lot during the holidays and do things together. I'll also be going camping to Italy or Switzerland with Mum and Dad, but it's finding time when we're all together because my brother plays basketball just about every day. I make friends on the site, going to the discos and things. I always say I'll write and I really mean it, but I'm not very good at keeping it up.

"When you're little, the summer holiday seems to go on and on for ages and at the end you really want to go back (to school). But now it doesn't seem like such a long time. Next year is the big work-hard year so I'm not sure I want to go back. During the year I've been working Saturday and Sunday in the Levi store so I decided against getting a job this holiday. I needed the break. "

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