It’s all about the school holidays…

…goes the 1950’s cry to attract graduates into the teaching profession. In short, the subtext said, work hard in term-time, and 14 weeks of holiday leave arrives all too frequently to compensate the wage-slave.

Claires Court Schools has an official 3 week break this Easter, so that’s all right then, and the tradition over our 50 years of existence continues… except of course it doesn’t actually.  Yep that’s right, ‘skools out from Wednesday, though that means the staff now get to work on other things, like training, marking and some r&r too – just 12 days outside of Bank hols!

Anyone who ever attends a staff meeting in education anywhere (and lots of businesses never have such events) knows that if the meetings are long, AOB is even longer.  Teachers care (no, really) and extraordinary time is spent checking, counter checking and holding-to-account everything we do after the end of term, and under AOB, all sorts of questions emerge that will immediately, or in due course, make schools change for the better. You see, it gets hard-wired in this ‘marking’ thing, after all, our normal workforce are both amazing and alarming in equal measure (the children that is) and we need to clock them in and clock them out with a precision that most unionised workforces would have got rid of, you guessed it, 50 years ago.  And that hard-wired stuff also allows and encourages teachers to look North to ‘da management’ and cause some further important reflection by their bosses as well.

Just by the by, I love the way Google tells us stuff we never knew, so we can then relate as an urban truth and seem wise.  If you stick the two words, industrial and education into google,  you’ll find all sorts of entertainment, not least from YouTube’s great oeuvre – see this for starters http://bit.ly/8JdcYb .

You don’t have to be a Sir Ken Robinson to know that actually there are schools better than those that Pink Floyd lined up for their contribution to the scholastic debate (ok, I live in hope that a broader audience need a link to another brick – http://bit.ly/gcMBHI)

So at CCS, the students (16+) and pupils (Y11 and below) were disappeared yesterday and the teaching staff are reflecting today really quite thoroughly on what we do,  and studying tomorrow with 2 of the country’s leading educators (both for practice and philosophy), Margaret Goldthorpe (http://www.margaretgoldthorpe.co.uk) and Neil MacKay (http://www.actiondyslexia.co.uk). Maggie’s philosophical ideas are fab for running schools – ‘when due to meet with parents, ask for 6 good things the child has done that week’ – stunning advice really, ‘cos every teacher I have ever met will tell you about personal shortcomings (adult or child), and Neil’s are (perhaps) even more powerful because he demonstrates (with seriously good academic research) that both parents and teachers are usually wrong about what a child can achieve within normal class groupings.

So apart from the staff training then, the ‘skool’ is set for sleep … not so fast sonny!

Those who row are on training camp from Thursday to Sunday, those who sail are away this weekend at regatta, those who ‘gold’ explore are away from Monday to Friday and those that ski are away next weekend for a week. Holiday club will be welcoming some 100 children on a daily basis to have ‘some fun’ and actually anyone with some public examinations needs to get stuck into some serious revision ‘cos within the month they are starting that set of tests and trials. Such activity demands that school leaders, middle managers and plain teaching & coaching staff are on duty, and I am privileged to run an organisation within which people genuinely understand that they either know their place and settle back ‘for a break’ or step up ‘to the mark’.

What’s true of course is that our staff do stop working (in terms of ‘face-time’) with their pupils, and they (both of them, adults and children) deserve that break. Holidays aren’t just about parents picking up the load, but more importantly, giving children contact time with other adults, preferably family, be that grandparents, uncles and aunts or whoever. When I was born and bred, children were there to be seen but not heard, which is the antithesis of what they need (I hear you cry), but in one of those strange ways, is an exception that proves the rule. 50 years ago (ok, it is the schools’ golden jubilee, so I need to have some product placement in my blog) children had huge contact with their parents, who needed to invent a post watershed rule (no TV/DVD/PC/iPo/ad) that gave the grown-ups a break (from their children).

What is absolutely true in 2011 is that the majority of CCS parents don’t have the full-on contact with their children of yesteryear, and the silent majority (I read the PQs, so I know) really welcome their children back from school, to deprogram them from ‘instruction’ and recover the lovely ‘peeps’ that live together and actually have some fun.  Much of the time, I suspect it is the children deprogramming the parents from their corporate culture that actually happens, a sort of naïve groundswell from the 5th column. It amazes me how many parents seem to run their children by clipboard, as if they are employees rather than kiddees!

But for an equal number, an asymmetric life that matches school is not possible, so the hols. need further respite care for the working parent, and that is what causes me to post this essay for the working parent.  Please, please find an opportunity to talk to your children; they have been in (my) school since the turn of the New Year and they have grown apace and are now even more interesting and entertaining than hitherto.  There is not a ‘tomorrow’ you are saving yourself for to ‘hear this good news’.  Hear it today, and avail yourself of this voucher which will change your life for the better.

Oh, by the way, I have ensured the voucher links to an explanation too – that’s the teacher in me!  I’ll just need to chase down those missing homeworks in the detention book then…

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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