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Should end-of-term lessons be any different from the normal?

By Mark Richards,

24 Jan 2020

As we head towards the end-of-term many teachers will be grappling with an age-old dilemma: Do end-of-term lessons need to be fun? Indeed, should the lessons you deliver at the end-of-term be any different from ‘the normal’? Is it best to forego the ‘traditional’ quiz or film, and just stick rigidly to the curriculum instead? Should teachers get into the Christmas spirit? It’s undeniable that the run-up to Christmas is markedly different from every other end-of-term during the school year.

Although, it’s true to say that many pupils are already on holiday (in their heads at least) at least a few days before any holiday actually begins; it’s also fair to say that this seems even more pronounced prior to the festive season. The tinsel, snowflakes and fairy lights that decorate most schools in December contribute to the mood.

There’s a palpable buzz about the place and Christmas concerts, assemblies and the like just add to the perception that the festivities are more important than lessons. There is an expectation that the last lesson a class have with a teacher (some would argue ‘last week’) before the break be allocated as a fun lesson: a film, quiz or game. The teacher who carries on regardless with ‘normal’ lessons is a brave one.

They are in for a rough ride and need to be ready to face many ‘Bah Humbug’ accusations. But should teachers enter into the Christmas spirit? Once you stop teaching, it’s all downhill from there The real problem is that once you deviate from the curriculum plan and stop ‘normal teaching’, it’s all downhill from there.

Kids will be itching for Christmas activities from the second they start opening their own advent calendars.

If a teacher caves in too early, there can be no going back. With the last week approaching, lesson planning often takes the form of checking Netflix subscriptions, gathering a host of digital Christmas-themed activities, and purchasing chocolates and sweets to dish out. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

If a teacher wants to spend some time with a class celebrating before the end of term, they really should be allowed to do so.

Teachers and pupils alike have worked really hard in what most would say is the toughest term of all. We’re all in it together Unfortunately, the whole period can cause unnecessary friction between staff.

As ever, it’s important that people are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Consistency is vital in schools.

However, if teachers want to continue normal teaching right up to the last minute, they should be allowed to do so as well.

There are certainly enough arguments in favour of such an approach. Some schools will introduce whole-school measures to ensure consistency of approach but ultimately a class teacher should be able to decide the best course of action for delivery of the last few lessons before a holiday begins.

For certain classes, working right up to the last minute is absolutely the right thing to do.

For another class, a viewing of ‘Elf’ is the right way to spend the last lesson.

Neither are wrong.

Teachers simply need to do what they think is best for their classes.


1- End of term fillers - It doesn't have to be videos and word searches

2- How do you prepare for the new terms at school?

3- Working in independent school

4- State v independent - dispelling some myths?

5- Top tips for brilliant lesson planning