Summer ‘Horror-days’

Two and a half years of Headship and five years of school leadership, not to mention five years as a classroom teacher, have taught me a lot about how people attack the summer holidays as a teacher.

Person 1 - into school the first few days of the summer holidays to get everything organised and sorted before floating off for 6 weeks into the sunshine (or rain).

Person 2 - drive off on the last day of term, windows down, music blaring shouting bring on the summer. Final week of the holidays coming in to school to get ready for the term.

Person 3 - constantly in school over the summer or working at home.

Person 4 - arrive at the September INSET hoping that there is some time allocated for classroom time!

In ten years of education, I’ve flitted between Person 1, 2, 3 and 4! Different summers have brought the need for a different person. I distinctly remember the summer before my NQT year being Person 3.

Whichever person you are, it really doesn’t matter; you can change from person to person, week by week. In fact, for me, it mirrors how teachers work in the term time - again it doesn’t matter. Everybody works in a way that is right for them, that suits their family/home life and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve seen recently on Twitter and Facebook the amount of abuse and ridicule Person 1 and 3 have got for their summer holiday plans and being in school. I always find that over a holiday period, Twitter becomes a virtual school playground with the cliques and the comments. Anything you post gets mocked or criticised, with only the cool kids cruising their domain.

The reality is, it doesn’t matter how you work or what you do, as long as the job gets done. As leaders, who are we to judge how people work? If it works for them, and they do a good job, it doesn’t matter.

When I started my Headship, one of my flagship actions was to close school on Friday at 4pm - so that everyone went home and I could put a big tick in the work/life balance. Staff left at 4 because I literally chucked them out of the building. The reality was that no one liked that action - it created more stress and people had to take their work home to do. As a result of this, I gave all teachers a key to let themselves in and out of school when they wanted - they could create a work/life balance that suits them!

As a Headteacher, I work in a way that works for me - we should afford that luxury to our staff. I heard recently of a Headteacher that was insisting staff came into school at 7.30 am and couldn’t leave before 4.30 pm, regardless of circumstances. How can we have got to this? How can we be in a profession that does this to our own?

I think often about this and then scratch my head wondering why we’ve got a national crisis of losing teachers...

It's important for teachers to find the time to switch off and unwind during the school holidays. Here's How to Relax This Summer Holiday before the back to school rush.

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