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School holidays

Following the 22 February earthquake, once the initial frenzy of alternative arrangements had subsided, we turned our attention to the future…how we would reconstruct the rest of the school year.

Having lost four weeks of instruction to the upheavals of the earth, there was a significant under-current of desire for the school to regain lost ground; that, after all, is why most parents send their children to an independent school – to get the full educational deal and miximise the value of the time spent at school!

We added a week to Term 2 by shortening the mid-year holidays by one week.  It seemed at the time such a reasonable and sensible thing to do.

Eighteen weeks and many a tremor later, that decision seems altogether different.  The children are too tired to learn, the teachers are too tired to function properly and even many of the parents are telling us that they and their families need a break.

It illustrates more starkly than normal just how important school holidays are, not just to break the year up, but to provide very real emotional space for everyone involved.

It is tempting to look upon school holidays as some sort of industrial curse on education, or as an irritating remnant of a time when one-income families were the norm; an aberrant blip in the social economy of the country.

School holidays are, I believe, a welcome necessity on several levels and need to be valued by the community as such.

Without holidays, the teaching community would quite simply vaporise leaving behind a few unresponsive zombies to mind the masses.  Teaching is a profession unlike all others; it is more akin to acting than anything else, and imagine the exhaustion of an actor who daily had to be on-stage and in character for a six-hour play five days a week. Without the opportunity to step back from the limelight and retreat to a less emotional level, teaching would be insufferable.  As it is, few teachers do not spend significant parts of the school holidays preparing for the next performance.

A school is a distinct entity unlike any other in a pupil’s life. It is a high-pressure mixture of social interaction, cognitive stimulation and social conditioning. While families no doubt feel like this at times, the interactions between children in a school environment are very different to those within a family: there are at a very different emotional level, the variety of the interactions is extreme and the pressures on the self-image of the child are continuous.  School holidays act as important circuit-breakers for children from the “stress” caused by the need to make continuous adjustments to their social construct of the world.

School holidays provide parents with a sometimes uncomfortable reminder of the real priorities of life, a little like the recent earthquakes here in Christchurch.  In the end, having children is the point of life; we may be sophisticated technological animals, but our true usefulness in the world is ultimately associated with the life that we bring into being and leave behind us.  When we are forced to weigh up the competing interests of childcare over the holidays with the need to earn an income, this reality is brought to the fore.

If only industry valued parenthood to the extent that employment was organised around school holidays.  Progressive companies are starting to make these sorts of accommodations but there is a long way to go.

In the meantime. we have re-learnt the value of school holidays.



Our Location

To arrange a visit please contact the School:

Street Address

The Cathedral Grammar School
26 Park Terrace
Christchurch 8013

Phone: (03) 365 0385
Fax: (03) 365 0384

Postal Address

The Cathedral Grammar School
PO Box 2244
Christchurch 8140