Those six-week holidays seemed indulgent then, but wonderful now

15th July 2011 at 01:00
Breaks for teachers used to be a touchy subject for me - until I got an outsider's perspective

The second question that people who know I used to be a teacher tend to ask me is: "Do you miss the holidays?" The first one is: "Do you miss the kids?" and I'm glad it's that way round. The answer to Q2 is that I don't really miss the six or seven-week block in the summer. When I taught, part of me had a sneaking suspicion that we had it easy, holiday- wise.

I cringed when someone said on the radio that teachers needed two weeks to wind down, two weeks to rest and two weeks to get ready for the new session. What would an Aamp;E nurse make of that, I wondered?

I get three or four weeks' less holiday entitlement than a teacher, but, within reason, I can take it when I like. You have no idea, if you have never worked outside the classroom, what a luxury this is. You can arrange work to be done in your house or for your car to be MoT'd at times that suit you. If you see a busy, stressful stretch coming up you can plan to end it with a day up a hill.

If you've patronised your readership by suggesting that stressful times exist outwith the classroom, you can go into hiding for a while.

If you are reading this on the Friday when it comes out, I will either be on Skye or heading back home. Wave to the bald guy in the blue Nissan. The following Monday, I will start back at work, with no sense of dread.

In truth, I rarely had a sense of dread going back to my teaching. I was lucky with my schools. What I did have was a sense of "here we go again".

Like Scooby Doo being chased and passing the same barber's shop and drugstore again and again, so I would foresee a protracted round of marking, NABs, reports and a life governed by bells.

Of course, it's never the same each year. Different goodies and baddies, but even if it wasn't for the few meddling kids that make life harder than you'd like, you would never get away from it.

Looking from the outside in, having been on the inside looking out, I have no doubt that the long holidays are justified. You have to have been there to know what a year of timetabled pupil contact, with no possibility of time off when you need it most, feels like.

I do sometimes miss six weeks of lazy mornings, though. I read a lot, and when the kids were younger we used to watch repeats of Scooby Doo.

Gregor Steele has a new silly car to play with in his time off

Gregor Steele, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre.

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