Weekends and Holidays

My nine years at Uppingham got me used to not having any weekend to speak of at all during term time. There we taught lessons on Saturday morning and all staff were expected to be involved with games in the afternoon. Sunday was usually written off with chapel, parent-teacher meetings, house trips and the countless other events that the authorities saw fit to place on a Sunday in a (laudable, but exhausting) attempt to keep the weekdays free for teaching. As a housemaster I had it even worse than that - housemasters were on duty every weekend at Uppingham, with no respite (I note, having gone back last weekend, that they do now have one weekend off as an exeat in the first part of this busy Michaelmas term). I remember one housemaster telling me that he quite looked forward to Mondays when the routine returned to normal and he didn't feel quite so isolated - I identify with that. There were many consolations - not least spectacularly long holidays - but the whole experience can be best described as working on an oil rig - once term had started you were on the rig and that was it. You didn't stop thinking about work until the next holiday arrived.

Now things are slightly different. Though nearly 60% of pupils at Oswestry board, there is no Saturday school and the organisation operates to more of a day-school timetable. I do have responsibilities at the weekend, but they are no more onerous than making an appearance in chapel and strolling around the pitches to watch the matches. I can't lie, weekends offer a blessed release. I know now, no matter how much of a backlog builds up, I can catch up at the weekends if I need to. Nor do I resent having to work at the weekends; in fact I rather enjoy it. The place is much quieter and I can turn my attention to those jobs that need a little more time and thought than I can give during the busy week. Pretty soon after I arrived, as I explained in a 'How I work' post I fell into a routine that worked for me. This involves getting up at 0600 on both Saturday and Sunday and cracking through the admin. or, if I'm lucky, researching for my EdD. I then feel very noble for the rest of the day, go on a run, watch my kids playing sport and relax a little.

Similarly in the holidays I'm happy to work if I need to (though after I've finished my EdD I fully intend to have a few years off unnecessary extra workload!) A couple of years ago it dawned on me and my wife just how fast our kids were growing up and how we'd better start making a little more of our holidays, particularly the long summer break. To this end for the last two years we've undertaken two fairly major expeditions: this one and this one. Completing these was an achievement enough for us as adults, but for our kids what they've done will give them something to talk about and remember for years to come. I hope it gives them the confidence to believe that, if they put their minds to it, there is very little they can't do - certainly in any sphere where bloody minded persistence yields results!

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