Inset days

The school, in its wisdom, has placed two inset days on the end of half term. I’m dreading if and when schools all start to choose different holiday patterns.

children running in the school playground


Barnsley Council recently announced plans to shorten the summer holiday and increase the autumn half term. I can see the arguments on both sides, but the thing that really worries me is if one school has a holiday at one time and another decides to have it a week or so later, lengthening the time that has to be covered with what I will loosely describe as “logistics planning”.

This gives it an air of professionalism, which is probably at odds with the sheer panic that occurs around 10 days [or less] before eg half term when I realise it’s that time of the year already and things need to be arranged.

The problem is that I am too focused on this week to think about, for instance, the summer holidays. This week there are GCSE pick-ups, dance club activities, a pirate assembly [only son is playing Dale, a pirate of few words], inset days and a six year old’s party to organise – plus work, of course. I can hardly complain about inset days, though, because on Tuesday only son woke up and found me at work on the chromebook in the bedroom. “I’ll go get the computer and we can work together,” he said.

Off he went. Minutes passed. I had visions of the laptop smashed on the floor. I went downstairs and there was only son with a big plate on which stood two vases of flowers and a bowl of cereal for me. “I’m just making you breakfast in bed, mum,” he said. “I couldn’t reach the tray.”

Only son is the ultimate colleague. I made him a pancake and put it on a tray with flowers and we retired upstairs together to work until my mum came and took the kids out for the day.

Daughter three has been in post-festival gloom and is trying to think of other venues where she can wear her mermaid outfit. I said the local swimming pool would probably veto it.

Daughter two has been complaining that she is the only one having to go to school every day and that all her friends are on an exchange which means she is left with just boys, who she feels are not worthy of talking to, and one other girl who she has little in common with. So dire is the situation that she has been forced to spend lunch hours in the library.

Daughter one is only in school for exams. I think she has entered what I will call exam fatigue. She feels like she has been doing exams for ever. I told her she can enjoy the summer.

She says she wants to go to Disneyland before she is too old. I said we can’t afford Disneyland, but maybe we’ll win a competition for next year. “I won’t be able to go next year,” she said. “I’ll be studying for International Baccalaureate.” “What, all summer?” “Yes, you need to get ahead.

Then the summer after I’ll be reading the reading list for university.” “No-one reads the reading list,” I said, but then on reflection I wondered if maybe these days they actually do, given they are brought up to believe their whole life is one long drudge fest which they will never get out of because there is no hope of earning enough money to move away from home ever or ever be out of debt. That is if they survive the prospect of war and climate change annihilation.

I have started looking up Disneyland competitions, but the problem is that they only generally cater to a family of four at best. I’ve got daughter two, an expert in extreme couponing programmes, on the case.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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