Half term: a break from the busy

The Telegraph, 07/02/15, with schoolwork out of the way, the half-term holiday can really begin, Eleanor Doughty asks head teachers what they suggest pupils should do with their time. HMC members Ralph Barlow, Sherborne School, Gus Lock, Warwick School and Oliver Blond, Roedean are quoted.

 The Monday to Friday that suspends classroom learning in favour of time spent at home is fast coming over the horizon, and with it, a slight anxiety for pupils and parents alike about how to make the most of the opportunity.

Breaking up the chilly winter months of rugby matches and mock exams, February half-term is one to be treasured. It is unlike its two cousins, May and October, both for its brevity – just a week, compared with some October double-whammy half-term fortnights – and for the fact, often pointed out by wise teachers, that it is the last holiday before the summer exams during which revision need not be compulsory and uninterrupted.

So what should one do with the February mini-break? Plenty of half-term activities are put on around the country, so inspiration can be found all over. From late-night openings at the National History Museum to whizzing down a zipwire at Go Ape, there is plenty on. But because it is a week off school, we thought it diplomatic to ask a selection of head teachers what they would ideally like their children to be doing.

It is not a great surprise to discover that almost every head believes that children should be reading books. So assuming that reading will be taken care of, what else should be on the February agenda?

The central theme is fun, and lots of it. “Try to make it a week which you will remember in 10 years’ time, and return to school with something to talk about,” Ralph Barlow, headmaster of Sherborne School, says.

“When you don’t have revision to do, it is still worth devising a plan to make the most of the week before it disappears in moments in apathy,” he suggests.

“Reading” is Warwick School headmaster Gus Lock’s first response to the question. “Ideally books that help [children] think beyond their current place and time, but any books are better than none,” he says.

Over February half-term, Warwick School opens its doors to pupils from all schools. From robotics, to squash, to kayaking, tag rugby, table tennis and stop-motion animation, Warwick has ticked almost every box for February half-term fun. “I hope that people who experience any aspect of Warwick School enjoy it,” Lock says.

Roedean’s Oliver Blond encourages pupils to find out something new, for learning can happen both in and out of school hours. “They should be looking for entirely unexplored land,” he explains.

“I would ask them to explore, research and read, delighting in the process of uncovering more and more about this area, whatever it might be. This is, itself, an exciting process.”

Read the full article © The Telegraph