What do teachers actually do in the summer holidays?

It’s the time of year when all teachers can finally breathe a sigh of relief – the end of summer term.

The six-week break is a chance for worn-out teachers to have a breather from the classroom and re-charge their batteries.

Sometimes faced with envious remarks about the long summer break they enjoy, do primary and secondary teachers simply chill out or do they use the time to plan and prepare for the academic year ahead?

We spoke to a cross-section of teachers across Greater Manchester to find out what they actually get up to.

‘Switch off completely’

Charlotte Crossan

Charlotte Crossan, 31, geography teacher at Poynton High School.

“The summer holidays are a time to switch off completely.

“During term you don’t have the time to relax and do nothing. Even at the weekends you spend half of your time either preparing or thinking about the Monday ahead.

“It’s all-consuming. Being on your feet all day teaching a full timetable is relentless. Mostly teaching is great but you just never sit down.

“You need the six weeks off for a clean break from school.

“I’m going to Lisbon for a friends 40th birthday and also have a couple of weddings later.

“But mostly I enjoy doing everyday things I don’t have time to do like seeing friends and family or reading and sewing.

“Towards the end of the summer I’ll start planning for next term. I like to get ahead as much as I can ready for when the kids come back.”

‘I’ll prepare ahead for the new school year’

Nathan D’Laryea

Nathan D’Laryea, 31, maths teacher at Loreto High School, Chorlton.

“It’s going to be a bit of different summer for me this year because I have just appointed head of Maths at Loreto where I teach.

“That means I’m going to need to do some work over the break to get ahead for September.

“Luckily I’ve been able to do quite a lot of preparation in the last three weeks, but there’s still a lot more to do.

“That’s not to say I won’t have a holiday. I’ll probably work for the first five or six days when we break up and then I’ll squeeze in a few holidays.

“This year I’m going to Barcelona with some friends. I’ve also taken up cycling so I’ll be doing quite a lot of that.

“The weekend before we go back to school I’m planning another weekend away to a European city. One last trip will be a nice way to round off the summer.

“I’ve always been pretty good at balancing my time at work with a social life. A lot of people think all teachers clock off at 3.30pm and go home.

“But it’s not like that at all. I usually work until 5pm so I don’t have to stay up late doing work. Teachers need the summer holidays so they don’t burn out.”

‘Explore my family history’

Helen Walker

Helen Walker, 52, associate assistant principal at Manchester Health Academy, Wythenshawe.

“This summer I’ll be heading up to Scotland with my parents to explore our ancestry.

“We believe we’re related to David Livingstone so we are going to Blantyre to root around some archives.

“My mum and dad are really excited because we only have to find one last little link. It’s a nice project we can do together.

“The break from school is really important. We spend so much time with the students it’s vital everyone has time off.

“Our children in Wythenshawe are fantastic but they need a lot of help and support throughout the year. We spend a lot of time, energy and emotion keeping them on track.

“It usually takes me a week or so to properly unwind and catch up with my sleep.

“For me it’s a time to get things into perspective and be a better mother. I’ve got two older children, one who’s about to go to university and one who has just graduated.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with both of them, as well as all my friends and former colleagues.

“I love the theatre and living in Manchester. It’s a great time to go to all the museums and enjoy the city.”

‘Ill be fishing… and reflecting. Rest is important’

Gillian Houghton with pupils at Abraham Moss

Gill Houghton, headteacher at Abraham Moss Community School in Crumpsall.

“This summer I will be standing in a river in Scotland in a pair of waders fishing for salmon.

“Yes, I am one of those saddos who stands in a river for hours waiting to catch a fish.

“I’m very much a Bear Grylls kind of lady – catch it, kill it, eat it.

“For me fishing and the summer break is all about reflecting on the previous year. I usually think about what we’ve done well at our school and what we could have done better.

“Only then can I start thinking for the year ahead. You need that total break from school life.

“You can’t constantly run marathons. Rest is just as important as the training, and that’s why I fish.”

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