Memories and Time

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shutterstock_400541233 Happy child playing in the sea. Kid having fun outdoors. Summer vacation and healthy lifestyle concept. Toned image


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What will you achieve this summer?

It is well-documented, that students apparently fall into an academic decline, more commonly known as the ‘summer-slump’ over the summer holidays. Yet, author and Kellie Elmore says:

Some of the best memories are made in flip-flops.”

So, what’s more important: a need for students to be working over the summer vacation? Or a need for teachers and students to recuperate and play with loved ones? I know which I would prefer …

Vietnam Beach @DodgyEye Ross McGill

Image: Ross McGill (@DodgyEye)

Schools Out!

With less than 30 days before state schools finish their 2015/16 academic year, in this post you will find an assembly resource to download and adopt for your school and student assemblies. In the resource I pose two key questions:

  1. How will you use your time?
  2. What memories will you gain from the summer of 2016?

Summer Holidays:

Before Michael Gove’s demise, he banded about in his policies that he wished to reduce the traditional 6-week holiday down to 3 or 4 weeks. I do know of some schools who currently work within this model, re-shaping their academic calendar to enable two-weeks break at every half-term, every 5 or 6 weeks.

Former Education Secretary, announced plans to allow schools to fix their own term dates from September 2015 in a move which could signal the end of the six-week break. He is anxious to combat any loss of learning during the holiday and believes the change could raise standards in schools. But the survey by MathsFactor – a tutoring company created by Carol Voderman (perhaps a pitch for business?) – found that one in three parents (35%) said they were unaware their children’s learning could be jeopardised by the holiday. (The Independent)

Historically, the long summer break was designed in the Victorian era, a model we still use today: “… when formal schooling was first established, the school calendar fit the needs of a particular community. When families became more mobile, the school calendar was standardised. The current 9-month calendar that most schools operate on was established when 85% of students were involved in industrial labour, and when climate control did not exist in school buildings.”

Others believe “other education reformers believed that children were overstimulated in a system which required 48 weeks of schooling” which may lead to issues of Mental Health in our young people.

In England and Wales, summer holidays for state schools usually last from the second half of July through to early September which gives a duration of around six or seven weeks. In addition, all schools in England and Wales have three one-week-long half-term breaks for each of the three terms including one in the autumn term at the end of October, one in the spring term in mid February and one in the summer term in late May or early June. Holiday dates for schools in the independent sector usually differ. In Northern Ireland, most schools’ summer vacation starts in early July and runs through to the end of August. In Scotland, school summer holidays start in late June and last for about six or seven weeks, with most schools returning around August 20. 

There is a detailed breakdown of summer vacations, country by country here.

Summer Schools:

The recent drive to re-establish Summer Schools for disadvantaged students (January 2015) was high on the agenda to improve standards of literacy and numeracy across England. I wonder how much of the initiative was a by-product of the summer riots of 2011? Was there any coincidence that it gained impetuous after such a period of chaos; to keep children off the streets and engage further with their communities in learning activities? Or was this just a manifesto to get a coalition government through to win an election?

Only months later, the Conservatives (DfE) announced that “schools will no longer receive additional funding from the government for summer schools.

Schools will still be able to use their pupil premium funding for summer schools, but will not receive a separate allocation for them. (Schools Week)

Is this is coincidence? There is a detailed report, published by the DFE on the Summer Schools programme for disadvantaged pupils: key findings for schools. It’s interesting reading.

Summer Schools Programme for Disadvantaged Pupils: Key findings for Schools Research report March 2013

Using Time Better:

In my assembly, I discuss what time students have left in their educational journey. I also share what opportunities they could adopt with the 40+ days given to them throughout the summer. In the resource, I share one-off lifetime events that shape who we are; events that are defined in history and amazing stories of individuals who have used their time to shape the rest of the world.

  • What could you do with your time?
  • What memory could you create?


You can download the presentation below; but first, please click this to say thank you.

Memories and Time Assembly

You can download the resource here.

If you are Seeking Permission, feel free to adapt. My only request, is that you respect my personal images.


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4 thoughts on “Memories and Time

  1. Well, I am off to excavate Ness of Brodgar on Orkney and I have an invitation to the Maritime Antiquities Scheme launch at the British Museum before I go. I told all my Year 11 students summers are supposed to be epic. I am off to have adventures and so should they. Using gain time now to sort new SOWs for next year so I can have the summer off without guilt.

    1. That sounds fantastic Katy. Do share photos! Easily turned into an assembly and classroom resource. We roll up the timetable now, so don’t have much gain time sadly to plan for next year. I do miss that period as a middle leader and I know our own staff do. As an SLT, there’s no such thing as gain time. Always pushed for time to get things done.

  2. There is a blog It is an expensive journey so I have gained sponsorship from a local company to go. When it is up and running and respectable will come back and place a link so all can see photos. A lot of my students wanted to be able to see what I was doing and that seemed the best way to do it within safe guidelines. I think it is important to balance time all year (not just summer). I passed my PhD upgrade in May and I know a lot of people don’t make it through PhD when working. Last year it got a bit like that. This year I am tough about my time and school time – and that is despite numerous revision classes in school and a trip aboard with students in February half term. However, I don’t have a family and respect that other people can’t do everything and be a good partner or parent. It is not a choice I would like to make. So I guess I wish everyone the best possible summer wherever they are. I like forward planning in school time as I like to cross plan the rough framework with my staff there – but that of course is off topic. ATB

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