Whatever you do with your summer, don’t let it be work

10th August 2018 at 00:00
The long break confirms for this headteacher that he’s well prepared for retirement – a mere 30 years early

One of the advantages of subscribing to this esteemed publication is the role it serves in marking time during the summer holidays. In these wonderful weeks, the only sure-fire signs of the coming weekend are the arrival of Tes through the letter box and the disappearance of Homes Under the Hammer from the TV screen.

And what a nuisance weekends are during school holidays. It takes something away from the luxury of the break to see that other people are at home in the middle of the day, too. All the advantages we miss out on in term time – the quiet spell in the supermarket, the empty tables at cafes, the tranquil walks on the beach – suddenly disappear, as the world and his wife are free to join the queues.

To make things worse, it’s so easy to forget what time it is, let alone what day, and soon enough you find yourself pulling up to the supermarket car park at 6.30pm on a Sunday wondering why it’s so empty. For Sunday nights are stranger than most. Gone are the feeling of impending doom, the pile of marking and the panicked last-minute planning. In their place is a more relaxed realisation that you’ve not got all the washing done this weekend and it doesn’t matter a jot.

Apparently, for some people, the weeks can begin to drag after the first few. Not so in this household. Every summer holiday confirms for me that I’m already well prepared for retirement – there’s just the small matter of another 30 years’ work to get through before I can be united with my destiny.

But for those who can’t find enough things to fill their time, try to avoid the rush to get back into school or make yet another beautiful display. All of those things will still happen, but with a proper respite from it all, you’ll be better prepared for what is the longest term, in every sense of the word. And, frankly, with the weather we’ve been having lately, it would be a scandal to spend so much time inside a school building.

Even if a holiday in some far-flung destination isn’t on the cards, there’s plenty that can occupy the mind of a teacher while they’re resting closer to home. And who knows, you might learn something.

This summer brings the European Championships in Glasgow – an opportunity to wonder how it’s even possible for synchronised swimmers to do what they do, or try to work out once again how the keirin works on the cycling track. If that’s not your thing, you could catch up with the TV drama that everyone always talked about but you missed.

Perhaps you haven’t visited your local library for a few weeks – years, maybe? Picking up a book or two, sitting out in the garden with a drink (or two) and passing an hour or two is not a bad way to spend the time. And if you really feel like you ought to do something for work, then pick up a few children’s books to try out.

Take a day trip, visit the beach, walk around some gardens, redecorate the spare bedroom, finally get something nice in that flower bed … goodness, you could even go shopping, if you must. The work will still be there come September, the displays will get done, the trays will be labelled. And if nothing else, you need something to say when asked that dreaded question come Inset day: “Do anything nice over the summer?”

Michael Tidd is headteacher at Medmerry Primary School in West Sussex. He tweets @MichaelT1979

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