May Day

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve had something of another dislocated week, but, as ever, the pupils and students have risen to the challenge of managing a more complicated Thursday than we otherwise would experience. We’ve got next Tuesday as another day of action and, I’ve no doubt, we will all yet again, conduct ourselves with integrity and dedication through that period.

And in between we have a bank holiday Monday. One of three bank holiday Mondays in May – which is interesting and presents significant challenges for us in schools and college, around timetables and SATs. As you would expect we have looked to mitigate the impact of those days on the children and young people.

And this allows us all to take the extended weekends in a relaxed manner, knowing that all the bases are covered when we all return to school or college.

The May Day bank holiday comes at an interesting time. With the National ongoing industrial action in a number of areas of the public sector the May Day bank holiday reminds us all of our collective responsibilities and endeavours.

The first 1st May holidays were established around the world as a day in support of workers and especially trade unionism. I think that has been lost over the years. We have celebrated the May Day bank holiday in the UK since 1978, when it was instituted by Michael Foot, the then labour employment secretary. There is a clue in that.

Like most bank holidays, the May Day bank holiday celebration has something more to it than that. The origins of an early May celebration go back over 2000 years. The date falls roughly between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, and the Celts celebrated it as the first day of summer, calling it at Beltane.

So, we have a story which is ancient and relevant at the same time. I doubt that many of us will take the day on Monday thinking of either Celtic celebrations or industrial relations. However, it is an opportunity for us just to take stock, reflect upon the work that we do and the successes that we have. Working in the public sector, including working in schools and colleges. is desperately important work at any time in history. Right now, it is so important. If we are going to set our nation on the right track, post-Covid, and allow our next generation to taste prosperity and success, we need a highly effective, well-motivated and well-rewarded public sector. That time will come, I’m sure.

‘I think there’s no higher calling in terms of a career than public service, which is a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and improve the world’. Jack Lew


Take some time this weekend to relax and rest. Enjoy whatever May Day will bring.