On Monday, most students and teachers in the UK will return for the last 7 weeks of the school year. We won't though, we're starting our new academic year. New timetables, new classes and new courses for some students. It's exciting, and as an NQT coming to the end of my first year I'm looking forward to the change. Starting with new classes is just what I need around now. I've learned plenty over this year and I'm ready to have the chance to start afresh and establish some of the routines that I've not been able to so far. However, I'm still in two minds about the change at this time of year.
I believe that the logic behind the change is to keep the momentum going throughout the year rather than allowing things to drop off during the summer term. It certainly has it's advantages. With no year 7 or year 12 I am gaining a lot of time over the next 7 weeks that I can use to plan and prepare. I didn't have any year 11 and only a few hours of year 13 so I didn't stand to gain much time on the previous timetable. I hope this gained time will mean I can cut down the amount of work I need to do over the summer break. With 2 weeks taken up with lectures for my first Masters module and sometime needed after that for my first assignment I want to be as prepared as I can be for September. So from a personal point of view, this year the change should be really positive.
That said, I know that it will be strange for any new staff starting in September. Taking over classes that have had 7 weeks with someone else. They will have settled into ways of working that suited the last teacher and already have books with their names on. I know this happens to an extent anyway, but certainly as a new teacher last September I felt like I was stepping into someone else's shoes mid-year rather than starting anew.
So, what does it mean for the students? It means that year 9 students moving into 10 are getting started on their GCSE courses earlier and in theory getting into new habits and routines before September. It won't make much difference for 12 into 13 as starting the A2 course after the AS exam is pretty common practice. The 7s are excited about becoming year 8 even though academically speaking I'm not convinced of the difference they'll notice and the same goes for 8s into 9. For the 10s into 11 does that mean the pressure of their final year is going to start earlier and last longer? Will it give them extra drive or will it have the opposite effect?
I'm not sure what differences I'm expecting to see, will we still have the 'end of the year' feeling or will it be overshadowed? We still have Sports day, Sponsor day, trips planned and year 7 induction days, so it is bound to feel like the summer term still.
I'd be interested to hear from anyone else that starts their new year next week or anyone that has a comment to share on this practice.