‘There’s a storm coming, Harry…and we all best be ready when she does.’ (Hagrid, Order of the Pheonix).
A storm-in-a-teacup really; one that gets whipped up this time each year, as teachers in the UK join their International colleagues (many of whom are starved of half-terms!) for the start of the Summer holidays. Cue the friendly banter as you struggle to avoid: The Great Summer Holiday Debate! You’ll bite your lip or try – in vain – to justify the length of time. You’ll look for back-up; it might be forthcoming but many will crumble and retreat to the bar or kitchen.
I take my hat off to those working 7-day-weeks with little or no holidays – I couldn’t do it myself. I need to recharge my aging batteries; my pupils certainly need to recharge theirs! Six weeks seemed so long when we were kids. A lifetime. I’m not saying it’s not long enough – far from it. This year though, let’s turn the debate on its head; lets take a look around Europe to see who’s already enjoying the the beach, spending time with family and keeping a close eye on the new school year.
You’ll be instantly drawn to Italy and the Balkans where kids and teachers enjoy some of the longest Summer holidays on the planet. Admittedly, their Easter and Christmas breaks might not be up to much – and they’ll no doubt be robbed of half-terms – but it’ll provide a way-in as you mount your defence. After hitting them in the Balkans, move in with the Scandinavia data while you throw in how admired the Finnish education system is. Sympathise with our Dutch and German colleagues, before modestly pointing out that – in actual fact – although we’re happy with the length of our Summer holidays, teachers in the UK have the shortest Summer break in Europe. They’ll continue to vent their disapproval; at which point you will retreat to the bar or kitchen
I get the debate – I really do! But wherever children have been taught this year, there’s a teacher in need of a rest and a cuddle. Go easy on them; surprise them; calm the storm and they’ll love you for it!
(Since writing this, I’ve seen a Spanish teacher say that their kids have longer than 8 weeks, so let’s use this as a guide shall we? They’ll be discrepancies I’m sure – please don’t hold it against me! All holidays are worked out from data at schoolholidayseurope.eu – correct at time of post; map image from youreuropemap.com; holidays based on average number of weeks *Bulgaria based on difference between nursery & secondary).