After the challenges of the last year were all hoping that the coming term will be a return to something like normality for UK schools. Whatever the future holds, here’s my roundup of things to look forward to this autumn.
Autumn Term Top Ten
- Although we didn’t get the best of summers this year, we should still have a few weeks of warmer days before the nights draw in. Let’s make the most of them while we can.
- It’s a new school year! Remember that feeling when you wrote your name on a new exercise book and opened the first fresh page full of possibilities. While we may have concerns about the return to school, children will have that same feeling of open possibility. This is an opportunity to help them capture that feeling and go on to achieve great things!
- Keats famously described autumn as the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ And we can all take delight from the many natural signs that summer is turning into autumn. Keep an eye out for which plants are flowering now, which fruits are ripening and which leaves changing colour. Which changes in the behaviour of birds and other animals do you notice? You’ll soon find that no two days are alike. You can find out more, and a range of nature-based activities on the Wildlife Trusts’ Looking After Yourself and Nature webpage.
- The annual Macmillan Coffee Morning, this year on 24 September, is now a firm fundraising fixture in many schools. You can sign up and get more information and a fundraising kit here: Macmillan Coffee Morning 2021.
- In the UK, October is Black History Month, which honours and celebrates the contribution Black Britons have made to our vibrant and diverse society. Why not make BHM 2021 a focus for an inclusive and diverse curriculum, not only for a month, but all year round. You can find out more about events and activities throughout the year, and order a school resource pack, from blackhistorymonth.org.uk. There are also regional listings so you can look for events local to you. Friday 22 October is Wear Red Day when we are encouraged to wear something red to show unity against racism. You can find out more on the Show Racism the Red Card website.
- This Autumn sees a range of other national awareness events. The links here will take you to information and resources for schools. This year’s Big Draw Festival has the theme ‘Make the Change’, exploring ways to live in balance with the world around us, to reconnect with each other and create a better world for future generations. Jeans for Genes Day lasts a week this year, with schools able to hold their day at any time in the week beginning Monday 13 September. We are all encouraged to #ShareAPoem on the theme of ‘Choice’ on National Poetry Day 2021, which is 7 October. You can download free resources from the education pages of the website. Another event featuring in the calendar of many schools is Anti-Bullying Week, which this year takes place between Monday 15 and Friday 19 November with the theme of ‘One Kind World’. 19 November is also the date of this year’s annual BBC Children in Need appeal which has become a regular fundraising focus for many schools.
- When the nights do draw in, and the weather gets colder, humans have responded by making lights and loud noises for as long as history records. In the UK, our excuse to celebrate with bonfires and fireworks is now Guy Fawkes Night on 5th November; well worth a reminder about firework safety.
- Some of the best school traditions happen in the Autumn term and will be upon us before we know it. So, check your Christmas jumper for moth holes, change the battery in your LED-lit elf hat, try to recall where you put that box of decorations, and start planning the Nativity Play now!
- At the end of this term, the Christmas Holiday beckons. This year, because it and Boxing Day fall on the weekend, the UK Bank Holidays are on Monday 28 & Tuesday 29 December.
- There are many other key dates, holidays and festivals you may wish to mark during the Autumn term:
- Tuesday 7 September Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year celebration
- Thursday 16 September Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement
- Tuesday 22 September Autumn Equinox
- Sunday 31 October is Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, and this year it is also the end of British summer time, so clocks go back one hour
- Monday 1 November is the Christian feast of All Saints’ Day
- Tuesday 2 November is the Christian feast of All Souls’ Day
- Thursday 4 November Diwali / Deepavali, the Hindu Festival of Lights
- Thursday 11 November Armistice Day, with Remembrance Sunday following on 14 November
- Sunday 28 November marks the start of Advent in the Christian Calendar
- Monday 29 November is the First Day of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, with the Last Day falling on Monday 6 December
- Tuesday 30 November St Andrew’s Day, a Bank Holiday in Scotland
- Tuesday 21 December is the Winter Solstice, with the shortest day length of the year.
What do you most look forward to in Autumn? Let me know if there are any dates or events that I’ve missed here.
Looking for some more inspiration for assemblies? Have a look at these educational quotes for Monday morning motivation.
Festival dates from timeanddate.com
Image: Pixabay / Peggy Choucair