Diary of a Primary School Mum: 'Teachers? They deserve 20 weeks holiday'

Half-term holidays should be abolished. Day one and cries of "I'm bored" began well in advance of 10a.m. It's hardly surprising. Twins Claire and Oliver only started Reception five weeks ago, were just getting into the groove and then wham! Time off. A newbie to this whole primary school lark and previously spoiled by a private nursery open all year round, I did the maths. State school holidays total a whopping 13 weeks a year and that's before inset days and general elections rock the boat.

Crunching our muddy boots over a carpet of fresh autumnal leaves in a nearby wood, I tell my best friend – who's a primary school teacher – that she and her colleagues have it so easy. "Three months paid holiday a year," I goad. "How much do teachers earn?"

My friend's tone turns sharp.

"What exactly is your point?"

"My point is it's a great gig. You work 9am to 3.30 pm and get vacations galore. Why don't more people want to be teachers?"

A lesser person would have found such glibness irritating, but my best friend doesn't rise to the devil's advocate bait. She calmly enters a diatribe (as if I'm one of her pupils) about the finer points of her profession and why teachers (like nurses) are the greatest, unsung heroes.

"Teachers can easily do a 12-hour day. We've got to prepare, set up, plan themes and do marking, after-school clubs and parent teacher evenings. You try teaching PE and dance to a class of 30 snippets.

"It's physically exhausting. I love my job, but it's incredibly intense with no personal space. We need time off to keep up our energy levels and motivation, otherwise we'd flag and be crap. Is that what you want?"

We stop at the café, for a reality check and a couple of cappuccinos. As I spoon chocolate powder off the milky froth I think about how whenever we arrive at school early the twins' teacher, Miss Perry, is always there getting the classroom ready. How displays miraculously appear on walls overnight. How she's always smiling, even when her sinuses are full of cough and cold. How she's always nice to us pushy mummies. How on the Friday before half-term, when the class managed to fill the superstar jar full of bricks for good behaviour, Miss Perry turned the room into a cinema and screened Dick Whittington, treating every child to a cup of popcorn and a chewy sweet. Damn it, such saintly behaviour deserves 20 weeks holiday and a fat cat salary to boot.

Back at school after half-term I asked the twins at pick-up time if they'd finally started lessons. "Oh yes," said Oliver. "We did the write dance."

"What's the write dance?" I asked. They shoved their jumpers and anoraks into my arms and began a traffic stopping, Oscar-winning performance of mechanical movement. "I am a robot, I am a robot," they sang in staccato bursts, drawing squares in the air with their limbs. "That's wonderful," I clap when it's over, "but what on earth has it got to do with lessons?"

"Well," Oliver said, "when we finished dancing we sat down and wrote the word 'hello'."

All this learning through play – Miss Perry is a teaching genius. As we opened the front door I asked the twins if they preferred being on holiday or being at school. "I like both," said Oliver, ever the diplomat. Claire, who took much longer to settle than her brother, had a different opinion.

"I like school better," she said. "We won't have any more holidays too soon, will we Mummy?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Belong: Volunteer Mentor for Offenders

This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in the devel...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent