People in other professions often make jibes about the generous holiday allowance within the education sector – yet as I turned off my usual 5:30am alarm, knowing it wouldn’t be disturbing me for another nine days, I couldn’t have cared any less about what people thought.
My school took its half-term break a little later than most and it has certainly felt like an exceptionally long first half to the term. As such, I was looking forward to a little relaxation with a lot of catch-ups planned among my wonderful friends who had been neglected as I stressed my way through the first half of the autumn term.
My amazing half-term plan all began with a nice lie-in – but from then on, things didn’t go to plan much at all!
My newly formed early bird body clock had me up by 8am, which wasn’t the lazy start I had intended. While I was secretly hoping for banners, balloons and a marching parade in honour of surviving the first half-term, I’d have settled for just another lazy hour in bed on that Saturday.
Instead, I found myself sat at my laptop writing schemes of work with a black coffee before the clock had even hit 9am – not the start to my half-term I had been expecting. In fact, my introductory half-term weekend seemed to be spent largely working through the bag of marking and writing the absent schemes in preparation for the return to school.
I was sure to include the odd gin and tonic, of course – I was on holiday after all! In hindsight, I was very grateful to my hard efforts that weekend as it freed my time up for a week off, journeying back up north to my PGCE host town of Liverpool – an amazing city which I revisited with fondness (and jealousy that I’m no longer there).
I’d been called back in to do workshops at my old placement school, which provided a little extra cash and an excuse to catch-up with all of my old course friends.
I enjoyed hearing the stories of horror from their first half-term teaching and, at the same time, was relieved to learn that I’m not the only NQT who feels as though they are drowning in paper work!
I was also immediately thankful that I had not had to deal with extreme behaviour or violence in the way some of these other new teachers had. And as I heard the stories from schools suffering in special measures, I was grateful to have begun my career at an Ofsted outstanding school – and at one which treasures performing arts within its curriculum.
Indeed, many of the NQTs I met-up with are already fearful for their jobs because of the government reforms – some have even begun to teach second subjects outside of the area they trained in. It made my hours spent planning lessons worthwhile; at least I was teaching something I am passionate about.
As I looked around the room at our group of new NQTs laughing at each other’s anecdotes, I felt a strange sense of pride in the way we had all grown-up over the past few months.
We are working people now in a sector that gives one of the largest amounts of responsibility, no wonder I feel as though my head is just above water most days. It’s reassuring, however, to know that others are fighting that drowning feeling with me!
Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.