Summertime blues

21st August 1998 at 01:00
AS A parent and the spouse of a teacher, I read the article (TESS, August 14) on school summer holidays with great interest. At last someone has solved the myriad of problems associated with operating an educational institution on a shorter summer holiday. Won't the teachers be happy, and the pupils will be overcome with fervour as they imbibe at the fount of knowledge for longer!

Aberdeen's research, which suggests that schools would be open for 47 weeks, seems to indicate that this would result in a week's holiday at Christmas and Easter with three full weeks in the summer. It is easy to imagine the cost of a holiday during these three weeks as every teacher tried to book the same period, along with the families also allocated the same weeks.

But perhaps I malign the idea. Is there a radical solution? Teachers will not be limited to the three-week period: they will have a period between May and September and their absence will be covered by extra staff or by the management team augmented by members of the education department who hold teaching qualifications.

Of course, with the increased pupil absences as their parents remove them from school to go on holidays as a family, there will be a large amount of extra teaching needed to enable the absentees to catch up with those elements of the syllabus that they have missed. This would be an ideal opportunity to employ more teachers as the existing class teacher clearly cannot disrupt the class on a regular basis to provide the "catching up".

Some children have far more holidays than their parents. They visit friends and relations and extend their personal horizons. Then there is Scout or Girl Guide camp, hobby activities - the regional youth orchestras spring to mind - and Scripture Union camp. But perhaps in a utopian world each school will provide and nurture these opportunities. Of course it will require an increase in staff and resources but, for the good of our children, we can accomplish this, can't we?

It is time for me to wake up now. So I'll bid you a pleasant good morning, as the holidays have ground to an end and everyone - pupils and staff alike - skips happily into school.

J S Park. Laburnum Grove. Stirling

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