The final half-term of the academic year. Summer 2. It’s a tough one.
Everyone is that little bit more tired. A normal school year will do that to people. To staff, to parents, to pupils. A year with a couple of lockdowns and weeks of remote learning only adds to this general fatigue. It’s a tiredness that lends itself to frustrations finally bubbling over. Children bicker and fight, and fall out, and faff and fuss. Parents see the invisible markers that define terms and school years as checkposts that must be reached before the summer holidays begin, so issues which are progressing along quite nicely are suddenly chased and hastened with added anguish and verve. Sometimes you can feel the air thick with stress and tension.
Trivial matters become big. Straws and camels backs and all that. Complaints arrive and emails get longer and more frequent.
Events pile up in the diary and all the story-arcs of the year must be neatly finished before the school can close for its 6 week break. If you ever wanted to know how the writers of Game of Thrones felt when they realised they only had 6 episodes left to conclude everything, then you can begin to have a sense of what teachers feel as the clock begins to tick down. Reports. Sports days. Transition days. Moving up days. Data deadlines. Leavers assemblies. It all has to happen in this tight little timeframe.
The headteacher pulls the SIP out at staff meetings and looks frazzled about the list of milestones and outcomes that need to be proven to have been met. Teachers remember their appraisal targets and start pulling together all the evidence they feel they need to produce.
In the middle of all of this chaos, the invisible finishing line looms large over everyone, and rather than act as a tantalising promised land it seems to do the opposite and simply exacerbates the chaos and the madness.
And then there’s the learning. The essence – the core business – of school. Children are there to learn. And there can be no let up in that.
This is not a half-term for the faint hearted. It is one for the superhero teachers to come into their own and save the day. It one for the superhero pupils to show their resilience and reach their potential. It is one for superhero parents to reap the rewards of another year of supporting and helping their children navigate the high seas of school.
And it is one for reminding us why we came into the job in the first place. To make a difference and be part of a story. No one chose teaching to be bored.