It’s the second week of September, schools have started again and parents across the nation have heaved a collective sigh of relief that life can return to normal after the long summer holiday.
Many children are starting school for the first time, entering into their Reception year, and many others are starting at new schools as they make the transition from primary to secondary education. It is a time of excitement and a little trepidation about all the new things to learn and classrooms to get used to. September can also seem like a funny time to decide that it’s the start of the school year too. In some countries, like Zimbabwe, school starts in January to match the beginning of the calendar year and in Japan it starts in April, to match the beginning of the financial year, so why is it September in the UK?
Well, to be honest, I couldn’t find a definitive reason but the main arguments seem to be around:
Harvest: One argument suggests that it’s to do with the time in history before farming became mechanized and all hands, including children’s, were needed to get the harvest in. This is generally finished by early September so the kids could then go back to school.
Seasonal: Another argument puts forward the reason for a September start in the UK, and different times around the world, down to timing the long holiday for when it’s warmest and sunniest. Supposedly anyway!
Parliamentary intake: Finally there is the argument that it is to do with a pre 19th century recruitment for government. Oxford and Cambridge geared their terms to lead up to this September recruitment and schools followed suit.
Which ever it is, those of us with children in the early years of school learning their phonics, also have to face the other fun question; why don’t we pronounce the ‘ch’ sound in school and why does it have a pesky silent h?
Why do you think that is? Post your suggestions, both scholarly and amusing in the comments.