Sunday, August 17, 2014


Watched the end of a marathon race on TV. Interesting. 26 miles plus 365 yards. The extra 365 yards were tacked on when the Olympics were held in London and the King said that the finish line should be in front of his box, so they extended the distance by 365 yards to suit him. And it's stuck. Those extra 365 yards for no good reason must jar with all those athletes, after 26 miles, the original distance from Marathon to Athens.

I think I speak for all foster carers in saying that school holidays are interesting too. The summer break can be fantastic, but a bit of a marathon. Then schools add an extra day. Inset Day, for no good reason. And it's stuck.

My experience in fostering is, when the children are at home all day, there's no point trying to get much done around the house. You can't cook anything special; younger foster children get jealous if you're lavishing your affection on stuffing mushrooms. Can't even hoover sometimes.

Easter holidays are okay. The weather is starting to break, you can get to the park. 

Christmas holidays depend on the individual foster child. It's a difficult time for a child in care, they want to be home and part of their real family, but if that can't happen, we carers have a wonderful opportunity to bring some magic into their life. 

Half term can be a hoot. I let them enjoy the first few days of freedom (lie-ins, cereal in their bedroom, chicken McNuggets for lunch). Then I start teasing the event. The event, usually on the Thursday or Friday, is nothing more than a trip to a soft-play centre or even the failsafe zoo.

The summer holiday is too long of course, but the length of the break from school helps in a way. Often the foster child gets into a daily pattern, a leisure routine. If you're lucky they become a bit self-sufficient - you can get a few jobs done, then play.

But don't get me started on Baker Days. Or Inset Days as they're now called. They're a joke. An insult to everyone's intelligence and an injury to working parents and foster carers. If parents can be fined for taking their children out of school for an affordable holiday, it's about time some bloody-minded parent sued the government for taking the school out of the child.

Especially when the first day of the new school year is an Inset Day. After a six week summer break.

Six weeks paid holiday and teachers can't get together on the Friday before the new school term? Give up one day of watering the runner beans and watching Escape To The Country?

You wonder if some teachers think teaching would be easier without the kids.

Plenty of sensible teachers are against Inset Days, not only teachers with school-aged children of their own. Striking teachers would do their case a big service by voluntarily scrapping Inset Days.

"Inset" stands for In Service Training.  Aren't teachers "In service" during school holidays? Also; I know it's a silly thought, but teachers never strike during school holidays or on Inset Days...

The thing is that summer holiday is a special time in fostering, but it's a marathon. You don't need the extra 365 yards.


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