Friday, 1 June 2012

Let's all Jubilee. Except the working mothers.

Here's something a bit fascinating. I just looked up the definition of 'jubilee'. It comes from the Hebrew, yobel, meaning ram or ram's horn, the thing with which you proclaim a jubilee. In Jewish history, the year of Jubilee was:
A year of emancipation and restoration, which was to be kept every fifty years, and to be proclaimed by the blast of trumpets throughout the land; during it the fields were to be left untilled, Hebrew slaves were to be set free, and lands and houses in the open country or unwalled towns that had been sold were to revert to their former owners or their heirs. 
The Romans got hold of this concept, and then the Christians, so that in the Roman Catholic church during the Middle Ages, a jubilee is 'a year of remission during which plenary indulgence may be obtained by a pilgrimage to Rome and certain pious works'.

By 1526, it's come to mean 'shouting'.

By 2012, as far as this mother is concerned, it has come to mean this:
In the light of the extra public holiday in 2012 for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the length of the school year in 2011/2012 has been reduced from the normal minimum of 380 half-day sessions to 378 half-day sessions (189 days). LAs and schools should plan for that school year on that basis.

This change is to ensure that school staff is treated the same as other workers, who will benefit from an extra public holiday.

The 2012 exams will be timetabled on the assumption that half-term will be in the week commencing 4 June so, unlike in a normal year, exams will be held in the last week of May.

So, today, Friday 1 June, schools are shut. This is, as the DfE tells me, so that school staff is treated the same as other workers. I think I'd find that statement slightly more credible if it were grammatically correct. As it is, a DfE 'worker' (presumably educated in Britain) can't work out when the term 'staff' should be treated as a single body or as a group of individuals.

Next week, there are going to be not one but two Bank Holidays to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. For all the working-from-home people in this land, it's an interruption of two whole precious working days, whether you are a Royalist or not.

For anyone who is forced to work around school timetables like I am (and please don't say "but it's your choice": I'm a writing mother), this has been extended backwards by a further extra day, and then extends forwards into a full week of half term (and please don't say, "it's lucky for you, in the private system they get TWO weeks off", I can't afford private).

So, school staff will benefit from the two days of public holiday everyone else is getting, because they will already be on half term. Why are they then entitled to ANOTHER day? That doesn't make any sense to me.

My cleaner has asked to work on Bank Holiday Tuesday — she needs the income. I need the income to pay the cleaner (and don't say "you could choose not to have a cleaner". I'm a writer, working round the school timetable, and I don't have the time to do the cleaning on top. I suppose you could ask why my husband doesn't do it, well, because he works full time. Tsk).

This year I have endured strikes, bank holidays, and training days, which teachers apparently need to take DURING the school term. I think it is completely disgraceful that teachers have this entitlement. Why? Because when I was a lecturer, we all worked through Bank Holidays when they fell in term time, because the term didn't stop for Bank Holidays — the work was much more important. Training during term time? No, training you do in your own time. How about in the thirteen weeks of annual leave teachers receive? Yes, of course, teaching is gruelling and exhausting, I know that from direct experience, I like, trust and respect people who work as teachers (I have to, they've got my children). But this? This is powerful unionization.

Nothing has moved me further to the right than seeing how the State education system works. 

P.S. For anyone wondering what my children were doing while I wrote this masterpiece, they were playing in the garden, making their own breakfast, tidying their bedrooms, and getting underway with their homework. So they don't have to do it in half term. 

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