It came in last night. The One. Like a lot of families across the UK, my two senior school boys and I are limping through Christmas productions, end of term exams and colds.
At this point in the term, I feel extremely smug if I get both of my sons off to school each morning with clean uniform, shiny shoes and the requisite amount of sports kit.
But then it happened. Rising, terrifyingly like the ghost of Christmas present, came that homework:
Year 7 Science –
Create a model to represent the structure of the Earth.
Label the layers.
Add details such as depth/thickness and temperature.
I scanned the homework portal screen with mild panic.
Due on Monday. Aka the final Monday of term. Aka the Monday after the last weekend before the kids break up from school.
I’d already managed to get over the previous week's panic over prepping for the festively titled Christmas Maths Exam.
Ho + Ho + Ho = Not Funny.
I’d already gone through the To Do List and helped my Year 7 strike off the History essay on why William ‘the bastard’ won the Battle of Hastings. (Words in inverted commas inserted by the History department; not this overstretched, occassionally sweary mum).
Plus the assignment included the words that every parent dreads 365 days a year:
The best ones will go on display.
Then I scrolled down a little further and saw the ‘helpful’ examples. There was a papier-mâché marvel that would not look out of place in the Science Museum.
There was a cake – yes, a cake – in the shape of the earth with rainbow layers of sponge corresponding to the crust, mantle, outer core, etc. It looked like something that had been baked by Paul Hollywood and then iced by Mary Berry.
I kid you not. Here is it:
Sincere apologies for re-purposing a serious song about famine in Africa to highlight the stress of craft homework but... 'Do They Know It’s Christmas?'
I can see it from the school's point of view. If we took our feet off the gas for the last two weeks of every term, the school year would be concertinaed into around four weeks free from seasonal stress. I tried to work out when these magical four weeks might be – and struggled. Some time after February half term perhaps? Answers on a postcard to the Department for Education please.
I also get that, for many, activity based homework is a relief from writing and rote learning. Craft activities offer a wonderful opportunity for kinaesthetic learning.
Just not at the most wonderful time of the year.
So, teachers, while we know you are heroes and work incredibly hard in the face of a huge amount pressure from the government and Ofsted, please can we cull the craft homework next year?
A WARM & VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM SCHOOL GUIDE
Thank you to all of you – teachers, parents, grandparents, tutors, – who have supported School Guide this year.
We wish you an A* Christmas.
Love Victoria and the School Guide Team x