I wonder if David Cameron’s cabinet had more women, as his wife Samantha points out needs to be higher up on his to-do list if we wouldn’t have this mad situation of different half terms.


Let’s be clear. It is great to spend time, one on one, with one child, as I did last week when my son was on half term and my daughters were not. We went go-karting, we went to the Science Museum and did a Hidden City trail. We went to the Imagine Festival and met Frank Cottrell Boyce. I’ve also had a great time with his younger sisters this week. We went back to the Imagine Festival where they danced with a giant horse-like creature called Beastie . They’ve done art at Kite Studios. We saw Wreck-it-Ralph. All delightful.

Unfortunately, as a free lancer, I’m now not just one week down, but two weeks down on work. Freelance work is not unlike the equation I learned for work in physics. If you put force on an object, it usually moves. If you don’t, it usually stays immobile. By the time two weeks of half term has passed by, very little has happened to my list and I’ve got less in the pipeline of potential work than in a usual week.

I have fit in a couple of meetings and managed two 1/2 days of work. This is with the help of grandpa, my part-time nanny (who has worked the same hours she normally does) and a few well chosen activities. I dropped my son off bowling with some friends, then went to Starbucks for a 45 minute meeting.

I can’t be the only one like this. In fact, I know I’m not. Several friends have kids in different schools – a mix of secondary and primary, state and independent. This year I’ve had different half terms twice in a row – both in the fall and winter. That’s four weeks instead of two when my work slows down and income drops. I’m not making money which the UK government could tax. My communication coaching work has halted and my writing has ground to a halt. (I’m writing this at night.)

Apparently in Sweden half terms are done geographically, which could make sense. Or, we do what my mother-in-law (a free-lancing author) got schools in the UK to do in the ’70s – stick to the same timetable. Here’s what they recommended, and with a bit of publicity (like a spot on the Today Program got all of the local authorities sign up to, as well as the independent sector, with the exception of Eton who said they had ‘a long tradition of holidays’.

  1. Autumn – week before the clocks changed so kids had long evenings outdoors

Spring – more difficult to standardize because of Easter and varied lengths of term between state & private but recommended a date

Summer – following June bank holiday