Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen… for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool gives you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year… summer opens the door and lets you out. Deb Calleti, author.
I think it’s fair to say American writer Deb Caletti, sums up pretty well the loveliness of summer. Now I know some of you may think I’m getting slightly ahead of myself having just experienced the coldest March in the UK since 1962, not to mention a eclectic mix of snow, hail, rain with only fleeting moments of sunshine these past couple of weeks, but according to an article on the BBC News website today, education secretary Michael Gove has urged for longer school days and shorter holidays for students. Gove argues, “If you look at the length of the school day in England, the length of the summer holiday, and we compare it to the extra tuition and support that children are receiving elsewhere, then we are fighting or actually running in this global race in a way that ensures that we start with a significant handicap.”
Those opposing the idea include Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers who said in response to Gove’s statement, “Teachers and pupils already spend longer hours in the classroom than most countries and also have some of the shortest summer holidays.” I think Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) hits the nail on the head though when he says, “The quality of the learning happening in the classrooms when children are in school is more important than the number of hours they spend there.”
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my school summer holidays. Cycling to the park with my friends, (for actual fun and not to keep fit!), picking berries with my Mum and sister to make jam, catching grasshoppers and keeping them as ‘pets’ for the day, going to the beach and coming home with windswept hair and a fresh set of freckles on my face, to name a few. The idea of having my holiday shortened would have horrified me as a child and does now as an adult. It seems students today are under constant scrutiny and feel a huge pressure to perform. What’s more, many schools make a point of setting coursework over the holidays to be completed by the time students return. In my opinion, young people need time to kick back and enjoy a well deserved and much needed break. Life is about balance and making sure you have time out from studies to refresh your mind and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.
Let the kids play is what I say!