Sun, sea and essential repairs - to the school and its staff

12th August 2011 at 01:00

Mick Waters' comment piece ("Let's take the heat off our summer break obsession and give the rest of the year - and a lot of pupils - a chance", 5 August) caused me to stir myself from my long summer break.

He proposes cohorts of children attending in 13-week cycles, and mixed cohorts, so schools are continually in use.

For building companies, summer is often a peak time because, due to health and safety considerations, most schools save this type of work until the break. If they did not, would we face more temporary closures while schools have replacement heating systems fitted (four weeks minimum) or their halls painted?

Oh, and if we close for a week to have this work done, would this move the cohort timetable, or mean that the children simply miss out this time and staff get extra holiday?

And how would we get the electricity meter replaced; the car park enlarged; new playground equipment installed; the hall floor polished; classrooms deep-cleaned and the carpets in Reception steam-cleaned; extra storage facilities built, etc.

I suppose caretakers and cleaners would have no holiday. And what about those routine maintenance activities involved with keeping the catering system clean and operational? The cook would have to do some overnight work to keep everything shipshape.

And what about the "stakeholders" and "consumers" - or, in non-jargon, the children and parents who use the school? Take Mrs J, who has four children in our school. Would they be in different cohorts? Potentially, she would have at least one child at home permanently, and family holidays would be consigned to history. And what would happen when one of her children moves to the local high school and the pattern becomes even more complicated? And then there are sports days and other collective activities that schools do so well. Mrs J would be in a continuous pattern of activities for each different cohort.

I am married to a teacher. Before we had children there was a time when there were only three weeks in August when we were both on holiday at the same time because we worked for different authorities. Imagine working in cohort A, your wife teaching cohort B, and you having two children in cohort C and D respectively.

But still, on your two weeks off, while everyone else is working, you could develop that golf swing or catch up on your reading. Or would it be time to get that assessment file completed for the assessment co-ordinator (who is still working as she is in cohort B)?

What a bonus a fixed 190-day contract would bring: with care, you could move little James from school to school, just before each one started its holidays, so his education could be minimised to four or five weeks a year.

Andrew Brooks, Deputy head, Merseyside.

I know it's the summer holidays because I'm suffering from yet another bug. I never have time off in term, but always seem to be laid low in the hols.

It's also the summer holidays because I have cleared all the weeds from my flower bed and am indulging in instant gardening: buying full-size perennials from the garden centre and plonking them in to enjoy looking at while I'm off.

voodoo child, via

I have put on 3lbs already from all the lunches out and not burning calories off running around at school. Oh well!

miffytherabbi, via

I am just going back to work. I love taking July instead of August - it is so quiet wherever you go.

The Pobble, via

I know it's the summer holidays because I'm still logging into TES Connect.

Siegen81to82, via


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