The end-of-term strops are upon us! My three primary school aged children, have now officially changed their names to Stroppy, Grumpy & Tired! Towards the end of term it’s always the same and I really can’t see what they can possibly be getting out of them at school, as it’s like refereeing a grudge match at home!
A typical episode goes something like this:
Stroppy has got the pre-teen sulky pout when Grumpy tells her ‘Your hair looks really messy at the back!’ I then assure Stroppy that it looks fine and there is no need to spend another 10 minutes re-doing it! At that moment, Tired pushes past and Stroppy yells, ‘He just ruined my hair, completely!’ Stroppy pushes Tired, Tired falls over and dissolves into (unnecessary) floods of tears. I shout at Stroppy, she complains that ‘I get the blame for everything around here’. Grumpy leaves the scene quietly, with a rye smile on her face, her work here is done.
Ordinarily, the summer term isn’t so bad but I guess the awful weather and lack of sunshine is taking its toll. Though the schools seem to resort to watching Disney films during the last week of the summer term, we are threatened with fines if we dare take our flagging children off on holiday, a few days early, in an attempt to save a few hundred pounds! There must be a better way, for everyone!
I heard in the news, a few weeks ago, a suggestion that the summer break was too long and that having more than four weeks off leads to ‘leaning loss’ or some such rubbish! I ranted and raved on about how children need to be children and how holidays are educational etc. etc. but then, on further investigation, realised that, as usual, the media had narrowed in on the sensationalising headline and left out the rest! What they were actually suggesting was that two weeks be taken off the summer break and given to individual schools to take as they please- genius! Not only would this change enable families to holiday at a cheaper rate, it would also give our kids some time off when they really need it.
An even braver solution would be to allow schools (or maybe councils- to allow for families with children at different schools) to choose all of their holidays and purposely stagger them. School holidays and term dates were set to suit our lifestyles a long time ago with when it was based on the agricultural calendar. The long summer holiday was given, for children to help bring in the crops or work the land. In the spring they were needed to help with sowing and planting and in autumn for harvesting. It’s time someone looked at it again and made some long overdue changes, to bring holidays into line with the way we live now and to best suit our children. I know this is a controversial issue but that is mainly due to the prospect of change. Whenever change happens, someone won’t like or agree with it, but that doesn’t mean we should be living in the dark ages!
Change is good, people!!
In my opinion, children struggle the most in the autumn term and many private schools and academies allow a two-week break in the October half term to reflect this, and they also finish earlier in December than state schools. I would therefore love to see similar holidays in the state system, even if that meant a shorter summer break. Let’s face it, four weeks is plenty of time to get a holiday in the sun and a few day trips in! I’m certainly flagging by the end of it and can’t wait to get the little darlings back to school. To be honest, they are usually desperate to see their friends and get away from me too!!
As for the school day itself, there’s room for improvement here too. Once the kids are collected from school, we have a variety of clubs to get to, throughout the week. The majority of these extra curricular sessions involve physical activity but there are also tutoring sessions (costing us a small fortune), which are then followed by homework on our return home! The 9-3ish timetable was also based around a farmer’s day and designed so that children went home to help with the housework (fat chance of that without promise of extra funds or bribery!) back in the Victorian era. Now, this structure seems ridiculous with both parents working and not many jobs allowing a regular 2.30pm cut-off! I’m not suggesting that academic lessons should necessarily run until 5pm, but that the extra time created, be used for sport, physical activity, music or craft, the things that kids love to do but seem to do a lot less of, than when we were at school. Maybe during this time, children struggling in a particular subject could be helped, therefore reducing the amount of tutoring that seems to necessary these days. Maybe, children who have been recognised as having a particular talent in sport or the arts could be excused at this time to practice with their team or group.
To make changes like these would be expensive. We would need more teachers and they would need to work different hours, which I can’t see the unions allowing- but don’t get me started on unions, another design of it’s time that (in my opinion) has no place in modern society!
I’m not sure that anyone will be so bold as to implement changes of this magnitude, but I’ve heard whispers and shared frustrations enough, to hope that it is at least, being considered.
What are your thoughts on our current state-educational timetable? Do you think it needs an overhaul or are you happy to leave it as it is?