Much like an Aussie batsman, I can’t wait for the summer to end.
What does an education reporter do during the long school holidays? It’s a question I’ve been asked every year as July approaches and the truth is, I’m still not really sure. I just seem to get through it somehow.
Summers are traditionally tough for newspapers. “Silly season” stories supposedly fill the pages when everyone else is on holiday.
Although the schools are closed for six weeks, the newspaper isn’t and I’m still required to come up with news.
So far it’s not been too quiet. In today’s Leicester Mercury we reveal the number of fines that have been given to parents who take their children out of school during term time.
It’s always a contentious topic. As in so many other ways parents and schools have become victims of today’s target culture.
In the old days head teachers could decide on a case-by-case basis whether to allow holidays during the term – this still happens to a large extent – but they’re under pressure to reduce their absence figures.
Lower absence reflects well on each school and the combined rate in each local authority area reflects well on the council, which the Government uses to judge how well they are doing.
So now local authorities have the ability to fine parents it’s easy to see why it happens.
Head teachers who use their power to fine do so when they’ve explored all other ways to encourage pupils to come to school.
But I’d be interested to know whether any improvement in attendance because of the threat of fines outweighs the damage done to school-parent relationships which are so important in Leicester’s toughest areas.
It’s four weeks until A-level results day when schools stories will, once again, come thick and fast again.
In the meantime, I’ll have to try to find out what is going on behind the scenes – but it’s no substitute for reporting on what pupils and teachers are doing when the classrooms and staffrooms aren’t empty.