Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Consultants Confusion.

I feel as though at war with Devon and Cornwall. Someone, like the director of education in Cornwall perhaps, who decides on school dates and holidays has made the anomalous decision not to follow Devon and their new six week terms. When I rang to find out what was going on, all I was told was that term dates are, “Sent out to consultants”. Consultants who don’t consult - seems a daft idea to me. You’d think these directors of education would enjoy a day out with their other county counterparts and over a coffee and muffin, open their dairies and decide then and there the convenient dates for all parties.
As it stands now, Devon and Cornwall education authorities are out by a week, resulting in completely different school holidays from the other county and thus making life as difficult for families as possible. Now this may not affect those living at the counties extremities but any family living on the edge –and of course, we are one of those families (literally and methaphorically) – can empathise because their children can quite easily be at two different school authorities. Thus families all the way down to Liskeard , up to Callington and across to Tavistock and Ivybridge are struggling. Take for instance my children. I have two younger ones who go to school locally in East Cornwall and two older ones who go to grammar school in Plymouth, Devon. It has become a bloody shambles and this half term is no exception.
Of course this being the first holiday of a new academic year it has a knock on affect and so the Christmas hols vary by a week, the February half term thankfully coincides but don’t get me started on Easter. This is the real bug bear. I don’t go out to work but my friends who do have a real headache in trying to sort out over a month of childcare. For instance my two youngest break up just before Good Friday and then have a fortnight off, whereas my oldest have only the Easter weekend off, then they go back to school and two weeks later they have a ‘Spring holiday’ and eventually return to school sometime in late April. I have one or two friends who are genuinely going to be in crisis next Easter as they cannot afford nor work out the logistics in having to find someone or something to look after and do with their children. The very helpful person to whom I spoke on the phone told me these holidays had created “real issues” for families. You don’t say.
Apparently, lots of families have taken to taking their children out of school for a week so that they overlap. Requests are already in for families wanting to take their little darlings skiing at Easter when they should be in double maths. I was hoping for a more modest few days in Pembrokeshire on my friend’s put-me- up but even that looks questionable given that on a Bank Holiday weekend one should allow oneself two days to travel up the M5.
The person to whom I spoke tried to reassure me that the Easter ‘issue’ would not be too much of a problem for the next few years as an early, March Easter only happens every seven or eight years and so, after 2008, the six week terms introduced by the government but ignored by Cornwall, should not have too much of an impact. We’ll see.
So, as my eldest children have returned to school, sulky that their younger siblings are still in bed, I have been left to entertain them. Hubby, just as I was getting used to him being here, has cleared off to somewhere near Swindon to pursue his Masters Degree course and is thus oblivious to the needs of entertaining small people. Now, I am not much of a mother when it comes to doing things with my children in the home. All those creative things that involve finger painting and glueing and sticking i.e lots of mess, I leave to other mothers. Personally, I feel an overwhelming desire to sob when after having squirted various coloured paints into adequate receptacles the thoughtless little blighters carelessly shove their paintbrush willy- nilly into every pot, therein ensuring that within minutes the only colour available to them is brown. Ditto Playdough and Plasticine. Luckily the weather has been extremely favourable and, with the older children more amenable to the idea of being latch-key kids I have been able to get out of the house all day long.
You’d be surprised how much of a day out you can make of a two centre visit i.e Endsleigh Garden Centre and Tesco’s. The little ones were overjoyed when we pulled into the car park at Endsleigh and my God they weren’t disappointed. It already is a winter wonderland there with snow covered Christmas trees, twinkling lights in every shape and hue, hidden Santas, electronic deer and waving, life sized polar bears. My girls actually squealed with delight and, fortuitously for the parrots and small mammal department, we were an hour in ‘Seasonal’ before my girls hurried off to tap their glass cage habitats. Suitably harassed, the Rabbits ran for cover before I dragged my severely scolded girls to Tesco’s.
Luckily in a place such as Tesco one’s children do not have to be so free-ranging as there are trolleys and straps with which to tie them down and, as long as they are chewing on a baguette and reading a comic, I am at liberty to mooch for a good couple of hours.
The rest of the week saw us at Dartington – we didn’t go near the glass or kitchen shop, concluding by running on the beach whilst I huddled under a blanket, muttering to myself. What I’ll do next spring when I’ve five weeks to kill remains to be seen but somehow I don’t think an outing to Tesco’s will cut it for the teenagers.


Sally Lomax said...

These split holiday systems are silly. One friend of mine was working in one school, and she and one of her sons shared their holiday. The other son was off for two weeks and then went back the day she started her holiday.......

Lisa said...

I don't know what I would do, since I work.
I loved the 'living on the edge' bit!
My kids beg to go to Stew Leonards, which has free samples and animated, singing animals through the store. It is totally cheesy and kitchy (sp) but they also have fabulous food, and make a lot of their own things, like fresh mozzarella cheese, so I overlook it!

Domestically Challenged said...

Well, it's obvious - this farce could only have been dreamt up by a man!

Mary Alice said...

That is the most ridiculous "plan" I have ever heard. I don't think it's a plan at all...it's just a cover up for a very bad accident.

By the way, my husband is working 60 hours a week and doing his Masters Degree program right now too. It makes me want to jab my eyeballs out.

Let's have a virtual Gin and Tonic. To the women that love military men and who make sure they have clean socks. Cheers.

Mopsa said...

Perhaps the teenagers will make their own entertainment at Easter? I will keep my fingers crossed for you that it is so. Why the hols aren't ubiquitous across the UK seems bonkers to me.