It’s only Easter – a two-week break – but already dread is mounting about the long summer holiday, yet several months away.
And it’s not just me. A great many parents find the long holiday difficult, expensive and the source of huge stress.
We like nothing better than spending time at play with our kids. In fact, we’d love to do that but our bosses and bank balances won’t let us. It’s just not possible.
Instead we cobble together child care, pay for expensive summer schools or, if we can, take the bank-breaking decision to stop working for the period. Grannies are bullied into babysitting while work-at-homers battle on in the face of bored and fed-up offspring.
So the notion of getting rid of the long summer holiday and replacing it with more shorter ones is certainly welcomed by this parent. I’m not suggesting that teachers do more hours, just that the hours they do work are spread out better. And neither do I think that teachers are there simply to run camps to dump children in so parents can skip off gleefully to do something else.
The reality is work must be done and children must be educated and cared for. Equally leisure must be taken in order that the other things can be done properly.
But good heavens, teachers, your six-week holiday cannot be sacred. Plans are being discussed to introduce five eight-week terms separated by more, shorter, breaks: Plans that seem to make a huge amount of sense.
However, the National Union of Teachers disagrees and is willing to go to great lengths to protect this “essential” break.
Their resolution states that “demands on teachers are so high during term-time that the longer summer break is an essential factor in a teacher’s management of excessive workload and work stress”.
That sound the NUT members can hear isn’t support up and down the country, it’s hollow laughter from parents who are equally familiar with “excessive workload and work stress”. What about us?
We want to spread the holiday childcare throughout the year; we want to be able to spend time with our families year round, not just in an enforced lump in the summer.
Who says three terms is the best way of doing things anyway? Isn’t it just that it’s the way we’ve always done it, from back in the day when fewer mums had to work and kids were far freer to spend the days roaming and den-building with their pals?
Things change and so should we. Come on teachers, you do a great job and we want to work with you, but clinging on to your six-week holiday like a child with a toy isn’t doing you any favours.