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When you’re about seven, a year is a very long time – the equivalent of about five modern years. Each day lasts about a week, each week lasts a month. Time goes very slowly. The day after my birthday was always such a disappointment – a whole year to go until the next one. That’s nearly a lifetime.

Sadly, these days this is no longer the case, as each school year comes and goes, just like that.

Someone explained this speeding up of time to me once. Rather than using standard measures like years, the perception of time can be measured in VMUs, or Vivid Memory Units. When we are young, everything is new and is therefore more memorable – riding a bicycle for the first time is definitely more memorable than riding it for the 382nd. Therefore, at primary school, when everything is new and exciting, children rack up VMU’s pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, as an adult there just aren’t quite so many VMU’s to be had as we’ve seen it all, or at least most of it, before. The pattern of the school year means that time just slips by, until one day you wake up, look in the mirror in horror and think, ‘How did that happen?’

This week I have been working on the school diary for 2018-19, a year which I know will be gone almost before it’s started.

There is the first day back, children lining up in their new classes, walking in with their new teachers, parents waving them off emotionally (secretly relieved at the opportunity for a bit of peace and quiet). Then there’s the first assembly, with everyone back at school, healthy and relaxed, full of stories of the endless summer holiday. Unfortunately that’s another thing that doesn’t last quite as long as it used to.

Then there are the meetings for new parents, and over the first weeks the new routines become established. Children settle into their new topics and are fresh and excited about being back at school. We come together as a community for Harvest, and before you know it, the clocks have gone back, it’s the Craft Fair, the show and we’re breaking up for Christmas.

The holidays come and go and we’re into the spring term, which, in my opinion, is a clear breach of the Trades Description Act. It’s winter, it’s dark, it’s freezing and almost everyone has a cold.

Then, as if by magic, it’s ‘Rainbow Day’, Hilla is organising the H Factor, the first signs of spring appear and we’re marking the end of term with the Easter Raffle. A few VMU’s later and Year 6 are celebrating the end of SATs, it’s the Summer Fair, I’m reading school reports and preparing for the end of year events that come thick and fast: meetings for new parents, the open evening, the leaver’s show. Another year gone.

Today marks the end of my 10th year as Headteacher of Highgate Primary and, unsurprisingly, this time has gone in the blink of an eye. It’s been challenging at times but hugely rewarding – and a great privilege. I’ve loved (nearly) every moment of it. Forget VMUs; time flies when you’re having fun.


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