Children all over England are running free for the next two weeks as schools broke up for the Easter holiday on Friday. Two things stand out for me as being different from what I’m used to in America…Easter holiday and breaking up. I think in America you only hear the term Spring Break being used to denote the time period when children get a week off from school rather than Easter break. While it would not be considered politically correct to use the term Easter break in America, using Easter and Christmas to denote a school break in England is still the norm.
The children here have an interesting schedule that varies a bit from what my daughter went through in the American school system. The schedule in England has a more liberal time off period during the school year, but a shorter break for summer. American children are out for roughly 11 weeks in summer while 6 weeks is typical here. English schools start later in September and break up for summer around July 20, but they’re off for 7 weeks at various points during the school year plus 4 additional days referred to as Bank holidays. American children have 4 weeks off with a few miscellaneous days thrown in such as MLK’s birthday along with a few others.
The size of the schools vary as well. The village school here has 20 students and 3 teachers along with 1 teaching assistant. It’s a primary school and accepts children ages 4-11. Surprisingly even though it’s reminiscent of rural schools that don’t exist anymore in most places in America, there is a computer for every child and musical instruments of various kinds as well. It’s set in the sweetest location and the children seem very happy and well connected despite the mix of ages. The older children help the younger ones in ways you wouldn’t see in larger schools in America where the grades are separated and the different classes tend to stay within their own age group. Here in our village school, the oldest child has a chance to be a leader and guide to the younger children and it seems to work very well.
I had a chance yesterday to snap a few photographs at the School Fete where teachers, parents and students along with some community members gathered together sell home baked goods, plants, and toys, to raise money for school trips and extras. Even though I don’t have a child in the school, I have an interest through my friend and running partner Tina, who has twin daughters who attend there. I sent some cookies I made (Bear Scat, a recipe I picked up on my recent trip to Alaska) along for the sale and John and I purchased a couple of chances on the duck race that capped the days fun. The school has a bridge right next to it with a lovely bit of water that the ducks were released into a bit further upstream. The children along parents and grandparents stood on the bridge cheering as the ducks floated down with different numbers written on their backsides in waterproof ink. It was a wonderful bit of fun for the children on their last day before breaking up for Easter break. The Head teacher, Mr. Ratcliffe along with two other teachers, Mrs. Webber and Mr. Knibbs got into the spirit of things by dressing in costume for the big scoop out. They did a great job chasing down the little yellow ducks that most of us would associate more with a hot bath rather than a cool river run.
I scooted down to the waters edge and stretched out on a big rock to capture a few memories of Duck Race 2009.