“To be brief…”

“To be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.”

George Santayana

At the end of the school day we break for a half term holiday. In order to include the local bank holiday we are out of sync with many other schools in the area and those in the UK. Half term in England and Wales is next week and there will also be a welcome break for those who take exams. We return to school on Wednesday 1st June and will start a packed half term of learning. This holiday has been termed a mini-break, although I’d still probably prefer it to be called a half term. But it isn’t the name on which I want to focus, it is the fact that it is a shade shorter than other half terms. The half term is like a comma, if gives a moment to draw breath, not to stop everything but simply to reduce and to slow. It is a time to recover and replenish a stock of energy, and that energy will certainly be needed in the coming weeks for the pace of school life will only accelerate from here on into the end of term. It is important that we use this limited time to gain the most benefit possible.

So having thought about the idea of small but important holidays, I did wonder if there are other areas of school life in which small is beautiful. Take break time, a period as vital for teachers as it is for their pupils, a chance to draw breath and to ready oneself for the next block of lessons. As those on exam leave may have found, the discipline of the bell means that break lasts just long enough but there is no temptation to procrastinate. Revision is a topic very much on the minds of pupils at the moment – again, breaking it up into reasonable chunks is a very good idea. Screen time, now an important element of life can be done in shorter bursts, there is no reason to engage in marathon sessions. This holiday I hope pupils balance indoor time with outdoor time and active time with more restful time. In fact there are many things that benefit from being a little shorter, indeed I can (off the top of my head) only think of one area where I’d never advise a pupil to go short and that is on sleep.

Brevity, it has been said, is the soul of wit. I suspect that it may also be the sign of a good newsletter column. So that’s me done, I hope that you have a restful half term.

Nicholas Hammond