Half term trips abroad are not a holiday –  for teachers, anyway

It may have been half term across Sheffield schools, but they have still very much seen a flurry of winter activity. Hats off to every teacher – and there are plenty of them – that has been involved in running a skiing trip this week.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 11:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 11:07 am
Hats off to every teacher that has been involved in running a skiing trip this half term week.

It takes a great deal of commitment to put on a school trip taking kids abroad and, from personal experience, I can honestly say they are absolutely not a holiday for the staff. Dealing with smuggled cigarettes and booze, handling homesickness and heartache, becoming a parent and an agony aunt – running a trip abroad is part police officer, part travel guide and part youth counsellor.

Taking a skiing trip is an extra courageous undertaking due to the danger involved; several teachers I know have ended up in a hospital in the Alps with kids who have injured themselves thinking they are being filmed for Ski Sunday. The organisation and admin that has to go in beforehand is enough to put many people off getting involved – be it the collecting information about the allergies of 40 children, being responsible for their passports or being in charge of the sick bucket! It’s not just skiing trips that have set off this week, of course. Teachers have taken groups of adventurous children to New York, London and Iceland from South Yorkshire schools during this half term. We should all be thankful for the effort they put in and the opportunities they provide, whilst also checking that schools are offering overnight stays for those families who perhaps cannot afford the £1,400 pric that now accompanies some visits. For those staying at home, school has also provided a hotbed of activity for some.  Teachers preparing drama productions in more than one Sheffield school have opened up school for the actors, dancers and musicians to spend a full day running through the production. Turning up with a packed lunch and bags full of talent, these children have found the routines very tough but have been committed enough to dedicate a day of their holiday to pushing the standard of their performance through the roof. On a more serious note, there have also been a lot of revision classes put on for those students who are getting ready for their GCSEs, particularly those who are needing extra help to hit their target grade. Whether or not these kids need to be dragged into school in an attempt to boost their Progress 8 at a time when they might be better relaxing is up for debate, but those teachers giving up their time are again to be praised. And let’s have a shout out as well for all the people working in the community who have put the time and effort in during this week to ensure that our children remain engaged, entertained and away from their games consoles this week. Leaflets and flyers have been kicking about in schools for weeks, advertising a whole range of activities. From drama schools to football camps and days spent dancing, these groups are run by unsung heroes that do so much for our school children. As well as keeping kids off the streets and doing something constructive, these are helping families by providing childcare during the days and keeping the economy ticking along. When the school doors open up again on Monday and the children pour through to begin their learning journey once again, a week will have past since they last sat in their chair and took note of their lesson objectives. But many of these young lives will have had experiences more valuable and priceless than the typical week. Perhaps they’ve had a lovely family holiday, went on a school trip, enjoyed a nice day out with friends, engaged in non-school clubs or rehearsed for a forthcoming production. However your half term holiday was spent, I hope it was constructive and that you return to school energised and full of hope for the next half term. And let’s not forget to thank the adults who make this all important holiday learning something that is our reality and yet something so many people globally can only dream of.