Brighton and Hove City Council started a two-year trial of a new two-week half-term this October. We are about to come to the end of the first year’s trial. How did it go for you?
Last July (2016), we welcomed the decision from the council to extend the school’s half-term for a trial two-year period. Prompted by the government’s draconian (and in my view, misguided) application of fines for unauthorised absence and the rising cost of family holidays in the UK and abroad, a campaign mobilised by a local mum, got the attention it deserved.
Brighton was gently mocked by some as living up to our middle-class image. Of course, we wanted cheaper holidays and that was the primary driver. Or was it?
It’s not just parents who are penalised by holiday companies’ pricing structures. It’s teachers too. We want our teachers inspired and motivated but do we provide the right environment that to happen?
And whether it’s a staycation, vacation or trip-of-a-lifetime, all of which I have seen in my Instagram feed since 13th October when the schools broke up, it’s quality family time. It’s educational time.
Parents can’t win, can we? Both mum and dad work to keep the lights on and food on the table. We work long hours, some have a commute, juggling breakfast and afterschool clubs. Ok, that’s our choice. To live in a city with rocketing housing costs. So perhaps we shouldn’t grumble about our lot and move somewhere cheaper.
We’re criticised for not speaking to our kids, not reading to our kids, not spending enough time. But we can’t just take any day out to have a family day – no. That’s unauthorised absence, putting children dangerously behind on the impossible academic programme our government has deemed suitable to train a future workforce. Unless it’s an exam year, I just can’t see the rationale. Especially in schools where pupil absence is not particularly an issue.
So, when exactly do experts and politicians suggest we take this quality time? Weekends are a given. But the school holidays are tricky. Family activities are either crowded or expensive – no matter where you go or what you choose. Camping placement prices increase. Flights and package holidays are unrealistic for many family budgets.
Time out together as a family is SO important. It connects you in a way which helps with the challenges of developing well-rounded young people. Families need to laugh, run around, have meals and discover things together. Those moments help us understand each other and form a foundation of trust which lasts through to teenage years and adulthood.
Especially with siblings. Our girls’ paths don’t cross that often at school, so on weekends, we can be faced with exhausting fights and power struggles. Give us three days on holiday and they are the best of friends. And when things get stressful back in our daily lives, they have a library of experiences together to remind them how to interact. It just gets better as they develop.
Plus, this early long break has been a welcome breather for my eldest’s anxiety. It has helped her digest the new school year and put her head in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the year.
How has it gone for us? Well perfectly. It just so happened this first trial coincided with my husband’s 50th. So we could plan the party, some family time and squeeze in a mum and dad trip away where the grandparents didn’t have to deal with the school run. I’ve seen from my social media feeds, so many families take trips home and abroad with mucho educational value. A bit of culture and sunshine fun in October, it’s a rare thing!
BUT not everyone managed to make this week work for them. So the next step is to make sure everyone gets their say.
What did you get up to? And have you already made plans for next year?