August 2018

The know zone

  • Summer term blues...
    'Common knowledge' has it that teachers not only spend a large proportion of the year on holiday but also have a full half-term to recharge their batteries in preparation for that big six-week 'sit-off'. If only it were that simple, says one head... More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • What's your favourite book?
    With the end of the summer term in sight, bringing with it a chance, hopefully, for you to unwind and maybe read a book or two, we asked what you enjoy reading. Fiction or non-fiction, novel or biography, here are a few suggestions from ASCL members and staff. More
  • Ready for transition?
    Kevin Gilmartin examines the proposed 'transition year' for 16 year-olds. More
  • Time for reflection
    Self-evaluation is almost always a useful process, but as with most leadership activities, the trick is to ensure the cost/benefit ratio works in your favour, says Stephen Rollett. More
  • Hub of expertise
    A new website, supported by ASCL, offers schools and colleges a valuable chance to share best practice and resources on special educational needs and disability (SEND). Anna Cole highlights the details. More
  • New starting point
    As the pace picks up on plans to introduce the controversial new Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), Julie McCulloch looks at how the assessment will work and how it will be used. More
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'Common knowledge' has it that teachers not only spend a large proportion of the year on holiday but also have a full half-term to recharge their batteries in preparation for that big six-week 'sit-off'. If only it were that simple, says one head...

Summer term blues...

One of the many joys of being a teacher is listening to other people’s confident assertions about the job and what it entails. We will all be very familiar with the fact that pretty much everyone knows how to teach and how to run a school; after all, we have all been to school, so we know what it’s all about.

And who can tire of hearing that teaching is such a doddle because we are all finished by 3.30pm and have most of the year off on holiday? My favourite nugget recently was the slightly rarer but no-more-based-in-reality, “You will be looking forward to that nice quiet run-up to summer.”

Don’t get me wrong, the summer term is nice. Autumn goes on forever and rains, spring is filled with more rain and trying to remember when exactly Easter is this year, but summer, summer is nice. The weather is (generally) better, Year 7 have finally worked out how to get to the English classroom they have been timetabled in four times per week for the entire year and you no longer go to work and come home in the dark (at 3.30pm).

However, nice is not the same as quiet.

Of course, Year 11 and 13 are busy sitting their exams, assuming they remember when they are; why, when there are sessions with no exams, are there always clashes? Equally, why does the sun decide to put in an appearance at exactly the time we cram 200 teenagers into a big room for several hours at a time? Every year. Without fail.

But even without the exams, the summer term is manic. Work with primary schools comes to the fore with Year 6 being prepared for their metamorphosis into Year 7 and Year 5 visiting to see what all the fuss is about. And then there’s trying to put together a timetable that includes all the subjects and classes without clashes or gaps. I once knew a school that, after much thought and effort, finally finished its timetable on the day before it broke up. The jubilation was short-lived when it was pointed out that maths did not appear to be part of the curriculum for the following year.

Rumour mill

Who doesn’t enjoy the tension that mounts as the 31 May deadline for resignations looms? It’s often in the half-term break just to add to the suspense. The rumour mill loves this time of year.

“St Barnaby’s have just advertised for four maths teachers, three English teachers and a deputy head who can timetable,” or, “The entire science department has applied to a new free school being set up in Guatemala,” and, “The head of French has been headhunted by the Brexit Office and she is currently negotiating her new contract with them.” Never mind The X Factor results, that’s real suspense.

Add to that governors’ meetings, budget-setting (why are all the numbers red?), awards assemblies, trips’ day, PTA meetings, school car boot sales, planning the calendar, dealing with rail disruption (that’s not my fault) and all the other things that summer term brings and it’s not quiet.

But the worst thing about the summer term is definitely the return of Love Island!

Enjoy the summer break – you’ve earned it..

The author is a Headteacher in the North of England.

Want the last word?

Last Word always welcomes contributions from members. If you’d like to share your humorous observations of school life, email Permjit Mann at ASCL offers a modest honorarium.