You'll probably think I'm mad writing about summer when we are still in mid-September... I mean we're not even at the end of term 1 but there is a good reason for giving Summer 2014 a little thought now and that's because next summer is going to be different - very different.
A Different Summer?
Don't worry I'm not gonna waste my breath trying to convince you that next summer will be different because England are going to end 48 years of despair by winning the World Cup in Brazil, no chance. I'm pretty sure that will just be all the usual hype followed by bitter disappointment ...no changes there I'm afraid...
What I'm talking about is that next year, it's going to be a long summer.... a very long summer. Schools will be finishing in early March as usual but the new school year won't begin until mid-June. That's a 3-month holiday we're looking at. Great news for our students but it may be a little worrying for teachers that don't get holiday pay (and I'm yet to meet anyone in a Thai school with a contract entitling them to three months holiday pay)
And getting paid is just one aspect of this extended summer break. But before looking at the repercussions, let's take a quick look at the 'logic' behind these changes..
The powers-that-be have decided that Thailand's school year should come in to line with the school year in other ASEAN countries. Why? Possibly to ease the exchange of students, I don't know exactly but being kind of pro-ASEAN I can see there is some logic in this so okay let's get in line with our ASEAN neighbours.
The New School Year
Singapore has the best-rated education system in the region and if Thailand is going to follow anyone then Singapore is a good choice. In Singapore the school year follows the calendar year running from January to December (this is similar to Australia). Schools in Malaysia also follow a school year which runs parallel to the calendar year.
Moving to this system makes good sense. Another good option would be to follow the international school year that Europe and America follow which runs from August/September to June/July. That would also be a good idea. International schools & Thai schools following similar calendars, the Christmas/New Year holidays line up and Easter holidays are often around Songkran so that also works.
So we have a couple of good options here, all of which are logical.
So what has Thailand decided to follow?
A- Singaporean School Year
B- Australian School Year
C- European School Year
D- American School Year
E- None of the above
ANSWER - E None of the above !
Thailand's reason for changing the school year is to fall in line with other ASEAN countries but the changes don't achieve this (unless all the other ASEAN countries also have plans to change their school years in 2014).
Thailand is moving the school year forward just one month. In 2014, the school year will begin in June instead of May. So we're still not in line with Singapore or Malaysia or Europe or America.
Why?? No idea, seems like we've fallen into the old trap of trying not to upset anyone but in turn not pleasing anyone.
Anyhow, regardless of the lack of logic, these changes are coming and coming soon. So the real question is - How will the changes effect you?
Many teachers have contracts that expire in March and most schools will wait till June before starting new contracts - that's two months without a contract. Some teachers use the summer months to return home or travel around Asia and for those of you that have this in mind, I am envious.
But how about those of us that need to work?
I suspect that a lot of schools will run extended summer camps, so there will be some work, maybe 6 weeks, but it's unlikely they will be longer than that. It is definitely worth checking with your school soon to find out what they have planned.
If your school isn't running an extended summer camp, don't despair because there will be plenty of work at language schools and tutor centers. I'm sure they will be coming up with all sorts of ways to cash in on the opportunities of Summer 2014.
And for those teachers with an entrepreneurial spirit, Summer 2014 may be a great opportunity to make some serious money. How about running your own soccer school, cooking school, dance club, drama group or ESL camp?
As sure as I am that England will be leaving Brazil early, I'm confident that there's gonna be a lot of parents looking for activities for their kids to do. One hundred days at home is a very, very long time.
Making ends meet between March and June isn't the only issue, how about visas and work permits?? I've gotta be honest, I'm not sure how this will play out. The workings of these government departments are completely beyond my comprehension. What I do know is that they have a skill of making the easiest thing as difficult as possible, so be prepared. Again, I suggest checking with your school to find out if you will be covered during the break. Otherwise you may find yourself without a visa in May as you wait for the new school year to begin.
Summer 2014 is still a long way away but like I said, it is worth giving some thought to now because the only thing you can be sure of is this - it won't be England lifting the World Cup in Brazil.