Tag Archives: summer holiday

A Glossary of U.K. Education (Vol. 3)

Following on from volumes one and two, here’s the latest edition of our education glossary.

Bennett, Tom

/bɛnɪt, tɒm/


Scottish outlaw and folk hero; known colloquially as ‘Tam’ Bennett, he formed the researchED clan and led the VAKobite Rebellion against the neuromyths laying claim to the throne of pedagogy; he ultimately overthrew the House of Brain-Gym and restored evidence to its rightful place.

Bloom’s taxonomy

/bluːmz takˈsɒnəmi/


a hierarchical model of classification which organises learning into six levels of complexity: remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate, create; once you have overcome all of these levels, you must ultimately defeat the end-of-level boss: obfuscate.

Blue’s taxonomy

/bluːz takˈsɒnəmi/


a hierarchical model of classification which organises items on a scale of least irritating to most irritating, based on the members of the boy band Blue: Simon Webbe (least irritating), Duncan James, Antony Costa, Lee Ryan (most irritating); e.g., “The consultant delivering that CPD was absolutely Lee Ryan.”




life-force of teachers; they can cut our budgets, they can freeze our pay, but if they come for our coffee and tea, they’ll have to prise it from our cold, dead hands.

Christodoulou, Daisy

/krɪˈstɒduːluː, ˈdeɪzi/


the only prominent educationalist who is most commonly referred to by their first name alone.

fair funding formula

/fɛː ˈfʌndɪŋ ˈfɔːmjʊlə/


unfair funding formula.

grade descriptors

/ɡreɪd dɪˈskrɪptəz/


occult apparatus used for supernatural divination; a form of cleromancy in which prophets will look over a document and then interpret it using the grade descriptors to guide them to a grade, which will then be challenged by another prophet who used the same descriptors to come up with an entirely different grade; a process of debate will follow until the prophets can agree on an interpretation of the descriptors that angers the spirits the least.

Hirsch, E.D.

/hɛːʃ, ˈiː ˈd/


educationalist and academic; be honest, you think his name is Ed, don’t you? I mean, maybe not consciously, but subconsciously, you sort of think of him as Ed Hirsch, don’t you? Yeh, you do.

interactive whiteboard (IWB)

/ɪntərˈaktɪv ˈwʌɪtbɔːd/


a large interactive

display that,

when written on with an

interactive whiteboard pen,

displays the writing wherever the                                               hell



Even after calib


Mantle of the Expert

/ˈmant(ə)l ɒv ðə ˈɛkspəːt/


educational approach in which novices spend their time pretending to be experts so that they can remain novices for longer.

Slough of Despond

/ˈsl əv dˈspɒnd/


the filthiest, most festering, fungus-ridden mug in the staffroom, as mentioned in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress: “This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth […] doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond.”; it is traditionally discarded in the waste bin at the end of every term, only to magically return in another form within a few weeks of the following term.




the gift given to tired teachers from the benevolent gods every few years as a reward for their hard work in educating the children (cf. wind, which is a punishment handed down to teachers from the vengeful gods for not keeping up with the marking).

Summer Holiday

/ˈsʌmə ˈhɒlɪdeɪ/


1963 British film starring Cliff Richard, in which he plays a character who wanders about feeling utterly purposeless at the start, then writes himself a to do list of household jobs he’s been putting off all year; he goes on to read a couple of books, binge watch some boxsets, fall asleep in the afternoon a bit, and he finally goes into work to put some displays up on the walls; just as the credits roll he suddenly realises that he hasn’t done any of the household jobs on his to do list.

Teach First

/tiːtʃ fəːst/


charity which focuses on giving bankers hearts.




powerful chemical catalyst; just one part wind mixed with 100+ parts children will cause uncontrollable agitation and ebullition of said children.




a form of neuralyzer (the memory-wiping device made famous by the Men in Black film franchise); it is used by teachers on themselves each night in order to forget the ignominy and upset of being told to “!@$# off” or that “your lessons are boring”; sometimes these things are even said to them by pupils.


The Final Comedown: Nothing prepares me for the end of term

I’ve looted and I’ve begged
On the tubes of the Bec and Broadway
I’ve been run over by cars
And to prove it here’s the scars
On my wrists
I’ve been cut
I’ve been stitched
I’ve been buggered, bewitched and abandoned

But nothing in Heaven or Earth
Prepared me for this
The Final Comedown

It’s a victory worth sharing
We should celebrate I think
With the bloodiest of Marys
But I’m too ****ed to drink.

Okay, so Carter U.S.M. were hardly poets, but I’ve found a bit of solace in these words lolloping around my brain today.

But why do I need solace? Yesterday was the end of term and today is the first day of the holidays. As the longest period of respite stretches itself out lazily in front of me, surely this is the feast day for teachers; a carnival of recreation; edu-Saturnalia?

So why am I not frolicking in Bacchanalian debauchery right now? Why am I not gambolling on a sawdust-covered table, spilling wine from my brass goblet?

Because I’m in a funk. I’m in the funk I’m always in at this point of the year. I’m not sure if it is something that affects everyone. But if it does, then there is so much excited build-up to the end of term that nobody really talks about it. It doesn’t matter how hard the year has been, or how ready I am for the break, nothing in Heaven or Earth prepares me for this: The Final Comedown.

Don’t get me wrong. I need a break. I couldn’t cope without it. This has been a particularly tough year and so the summer holiday is more needed than ever. It’s just that the sudden loss of purpose is like the moment when Wile E. Coyote runs out of ground and goes plummeting into the canyon: it’s a shock. And it’s one that leaves me with a numb and hollow feeling for a couple of days.

Is it the suddenness of it? Is it the fact that teaching over-occupies me for most of the year and thus nothing can really ever replace it or fill the void of its purpose? The summer break isn’t so much a blank canvas, rather it’s a palimpsest of term time. It takes a short while to scrape off what is already on the page before you can fill it with something new.

And it is just a short while too. I know from experience that the comedown passes after a day or two. And at that point, I couldn’t be happier to be on a break. But in these early days, it’s like being in limbo.

This funk can be harder if you have the added sorrow of saying goodbye to colleagues who are dear to you and who are off to pastures new. This year I have said goodbye to friends who I have grown very fond of and who are crossing the globe in search of new horizons. We’ve all experienced this kind of loss and know that it creates an even greater vacuum to try and fill.

But I’m really not complaining about having five and a half weeks off school. It is absolutely necessary and will mean that I can teach with renewed vigour in September. And it honestly does feel like an achievement to get to the end of another academic year. It really is a victory worth sharing. We certainly should celebrate, I think, with the bloodiest of Marys. But – right now, just for a couple of days – I’m too ****ed to drink.