A quick comment about students that might have Oxbridge aspirations.
In many schools, there is a crazy idea that students should not be given homework in the holiday breaks. While it is obvious that students need a break, it is also obvious that they like success at anything they do. In fact this feeling is stronger than that… if you ask students what is their favourite subject, they will often choose the subject they get the best marks in. This is in part, because we all like positive feedback from the efforts we make. Those students aspiring to Oxbridge should be taking opportunities to push the subjects they will be applying for.
The aim is not to fill the breaks with work – my view is that students need a rest. But they also need to be encouraged to reach the heights they are capable of… heights that they may well not be aware they are capable of. And the way to help is to keep them inspired to try – it is certainly not to give them a few months off work so they can ignore all they have done so far.
In the big breaks (i.e., Christmas, Easter and Summer) I send all the students in my school above year 8 (yes all of them) an email which gives them interesting items to watch on systems like YouTube, BigThink, Ted, etc. Along with questions they may wish to consider that are linked in some way. The email has an introduction which states clearly that they do not need to do anything and this is NOT homework… it is purely for them to look at, if the like. If anyone would like a copy of one of these emails, contact me and I will happily send one through to you.
There is a slightly different perspective for Oxbridge students – they do need to be doing something academic, even if it’s simply reading. Any such students usually get an email from me, which asks them what they are reading and a comment that we can discuss the fine details of the book when we next get together.
A final note abut workload. Teachers work hard and we care. If we did not care for the students and their welfare and progress, we would not do the job. So teachers definitely need the rest they can get. However, a small amount of effort on our parts will help these students. So… a deep breath and do it.