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Time for a break?


Be warned. This is another of my crackpot ideas which is never going to see the light of day. But, for those of you who read my rantings regularly ... and I know that there are fair few ... I offer it to you, if only because I am waiting for my dear wife to make a curry from yesterday's chicken leftovers and she's still pulling the meat off its carcass. That gives me about an hour. The above quote, for those who aren't familiar with it, is from JRR Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo, who has been burdened with the One Ring for many years and who has been weighed down by the power that it holds over him, decides to do a runner by miraculously vanishing on his birthday, much to the consternation of all his relatives. I suspect that many people who've slugged it out since the start of September can empathise.


Now, I am the last person who needs a break right now. I've been on an enforced break for far too long ... and need to get back to doing my job as soon as I am allowed to. But I know of friends in education who have been to Hell and back in the last three months. At the time of writing, the department of which I am a part has been reduced to one person. 80% of the Geography lessons in the school are being delivered remotely for the next fortnight at least. The rota system, which we were told in no uncertain terms was not to be used, has come in, as it were, by the back door with all the attendant chaos and uncertainty that ensues.


All of which got me thinking ...


I am lucky enough to have friends in Mauritius. I've been twice, in 2007 and 2010. When we took our children in August 2010 in what was, for us, the summer holiday, it was just about as cold as it gets there. We had to buy jumpers as, high up on the central plain, people gathered around log fires although the lowest temperature ever recorded on the island is apparently 9C. Our children were desperate to spend time with our friends' son and two daughters ... but within a few days of us getting there, they had to go back to school. They were heading back for the Spring Term in mid-August and would have to wait until December for their much longer holiday which lasted from just before Christmas until mid-February.


Why can't we do the same here in the UK? God knows everyone who has been in school needs a break now more than ever. Then the Spring Term can run from mid-February until early May and the Summer Term from late May until mid-August, leaving a shorter summer holiday before the next academic year starts. There would be no lost teaching time overall; we could give up trying to hold schools together when they are quite literally falling apart. It would stop millions of children from carrying the virus back into their homes and putting their relatives at risk in the winter months; it would give time for the vaccination programme to deliver the goods to all the elderly and keyworkers so that schools were far safer when we went back to them in February. Exams could be put back a further few weeks to allow students the time to catch up.


Anyway, my curry is nearly ready. I'd better sign off. I'll go on dreaming.


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