Wednesday, July 22, 2015



The arrival of any school holiday is a big gear change in fostering.

During term time Monday mornings are a welcome breather and a chance to catch up the jobs in a quiet house.

When the schools break up you're chasing your tail for a few weeks.

On the last day of term fostered children can be disarmingly like children the world over, they get out of bed with a spring in their step, and say over breakfast they are going to miss certain friends. They sometimes even say they are going to miss a teacher or two.

The following morning they love to turn over and go back to sleep, wallowing in the abscence of obligations. They spend the rest of the first day in a bit of a dream. 

They keep looking at the clock and going "Let's see...quarter past eleven...we'd be doing...Maths!'

They are a joy to have at home, but you're in your combat fatigues, you know you're on a war footing because, at about half past two on day one they appear in your kitchen and say:


It happens every time, yet it catches me out every time. Last summer holiday it was a delegation of three who appeared like a picket line intent on stopping me getting any work done.

I said "Well I've got to go to the supermarket, who'd like to come?"

A: "Boring"

Q: "Have you sorted out your Lego?"

A: "Boring"

Q: "I could put the badminton net up in the garden"

A: "Really BORING!"

And so on. It's like a natural reaction to any high; they go up and have to come down.

Some families go away on summer holiday the morning after the schools break up, I never understood that plan, what is there to look forward to? I get the plan now, but it's too late; we aim to go away around the middle of the summer holiday so it breaks up the six weeks.


While I'm thinking about it, what do we think about the Schools boss saying he wants courts to up the fine on parents who take their children out of school to go on holiday? Sir Michael Wilshaw earns something knocking on £200,000 a year (his salary isn't public, but the last Ofsted chief did) so the cost of a family of five going to Lanzarote for a week wouldn't even make him blink when he ran his finger past it on his bank statement, but for the average family it's the eyewatering standout payment of the year.

And if people like Wilshaw want to waft around radio and TV studios guffing about responsibility to children's education they should remember that schools lock children out for same number of days every year, so there ain't that much a child can't do without in 5 days teaching is there boys and girls?

Don't know about every school but the ones round here, every summer the teachers have 6 weeks off, then on the first day of the first week they shut the school to children for the day so they can...what? Pin up new pictures in the classroom? Re-arrange the desks? Have a meeting to agree that two and two is still four, so let's get ready for another year just like last year? 

As you can tell it makes my blood boil.


On a slightly different tack; this week we aquired a dog. I say 'acquired', what happened was this; a relative was working abroad when he stumbled on a market stall selling pups. He worked out they were being sold for food, along with the chickens and pigeons. He bought one to save it from the pot.

Now he's home, but his work has taken him elsewhere and the dog can't go along.

Lovely sweet pooch. I call him "Number 57 Wiv Noodles" which is my slight joke. 

So the first thing we do is take the dog along to the vet for his psychiatric profiling. This is a fostering must, at least I think it is, it's definitely a must for Blue Sky.

So you take your dog in and the vet decides if he's sane. Sane and safe. He passed alright, in spite of having a troubled childhood he's got his act together. Bit of a metaphor for fostering is Number 57.

Suppose the Chief of Schools had to pass a savvy test, with one question: 

Question One: "Why is it a civil offence with a fine for parents to take their children on holiday for 5 school days per year but you're cool to shut the children out of school for 5 school days per year?"


Am able, now we have a dog, to reply to "I'm bored!" with "The dog needs a walk"

Which usually triggers sudden interest in Lego.


  1. We are foster carers and my wife was a teacher. Trust me, that teachers do NOT have six weeks off. My wife regularly worked in excess of 60 hours a week, and worked every holiday (marking, paperwork, planning etc.). Despite what the tabloids would have you believe, it is actually incredibly hard work for little pay with unrealistic expectations from those 'in charge', and the public seem to think the whole thing is some kind of holiday/money-making scam (sound familiar?) I know how hard fostering is, and know first-hand the frustration when you come across someone who forms an ill-informed opinion about the reality of how it works and what it takes out of you. Perhaps teachers should be afforded the same consideration.

  2. You're quite correct, my mistake, teachers do not have six weeks off teaching. This summer it's seven weeks, counting Inset days.

  3. Sure. And as we all know, foster-caring is a breeze, and we all get paid to sit around and do nothing while other parents have to actually work for a living. SMH.

  4. Funny, I've only ever had 4 tetchy comments on this blog to date. I say 'funny' because the hissy fits all came from men, yet men appear to make up less than 1% of the readers. Must be something about a woman with an opinion rubs some men up the wrong way.
    You make it clear that teaching was a burden then you go on (if I read your sarcasm right) to say you are finding fostering harder work and worse money than people think. Speak to your SW. Or meet new people.
    My point (which I'll gladly repeat just for your benefit mister) is that shutting children out of school for 5 term days per year while also fining parents for doing exactly the same is a gob-smacking case of double standards. Anyone who can't see that hasn't the brains to be working with children.

  5. Wow. I find that pretty rude and condescending. This is clearly going nowhere - I agree with you entirely that there are serious flaws in the school system, including the fines. I also think there should be flexibility from the schools, or some kind of controls to stop prices being hiked at holiday times. I agree entirely on that point. My 'hissy fit', as you call it, was simply pointing out that the suggestion that teachers have it easy/take huge amounts of time off is about as accurate as the media's portrayal of foster carers having it easy, or NHS workers being lazy, or social workers being evil demons with magic powers to break up happy families for no good reason. All I was suggesting was a little perspective with the brush you are tarring teachers with. No offence was intended, and I find the way you pushed this as some kind of sexist issue pretty strange. I had no idea you were a woman, and it is entirely irrelevant to the point I was making. In any event, I sincerely wish wish you all the best, and am sorry if the tone of my original posts caused any upset.

  6. Sorry but you can't get away with additional jibes like 'the media's portrayal of foster carers having it easy' and 'the brush you are tarring teachers with' by apologising for previous things you've inferred.
    Which medium portrays foster carers as having it easy? Name the articles or pieces if you can. Seriously, do it, give us something concrete to go on or else keep your imaginings to yourself.
    As for 'tarring teachers'; they get 6 weeks off in the summer.
    Repeat; they get 6 weeks off in the summer.
    6 weeks off, at the end of which they lock our children out of the building even though it's term time so they can have a cosy Inset day tacked on the end of their 6 weeks off. On full pay.
    Would it kill them to come in on the last day of their 6 weeks off?

  7. Speaking as a teacher, our two days without children are anything but days to put displays up. They are days of training - mostly delivered by ourselves, but including mandatory Child protection training this time (which has to be done every two years and takes a full day each time). I have already spend one day of my holiday in school clearing up, and four hours most days so far rewriting schemes of work and setting up assessments.
    I agree that there are issues with parents being fined for taking pupils out during term time - as there are issues for teachers who have to take their own holidays in times when holidays cost most! There are also huge issues for teachers when pupils are absent - for whatever reason - in ensuring they understand the lesson being taught when they return.
    As the previous commentator said, teachers do not spend all their holidays relaxing - not by any stretch of the imagination! Also, teachers have no control over when INSET days occur - those are determined by head teachers, usually in conjunction with local authorities. Inset days are rarely "cosy". Oh, and I am female, and a mum as well. I'm sorry you feel so hostile towards us - most of us are trying extremely hard to support pupils, and our working day does not end at 3.30 when pupils go home, nor do we rest and relax for 6 weeks every summer.

  8. It was the husband of a teacher who kicked off the hostility; I hate the abuse of SHOUTING CAPITALS. You teachers think you're the only ones who have to take their work home for God's sake. Everyone does. Only nobody else who is lucky enough to have a salaried, pensionable and virtually guaranteed job for life gets more days at home than in the workplace year after year. Repeat; would it kill you to come in on the last day of your 6 weeks off?