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Can it be too much to ask?

Dear Secret Santa

I'm really looking forward to our Christmas bash. It's been a real slog this term, what with the new prep time arrangements, a surprise "quickie"

inspection and worrying about the new teaching and learning responsibility payments. PPA, TLRs? What I really need is some TLC.

The Ofsted inspection was especially stressful. The head was quite jumpy about it and suddenly cancelled our new PPA time so we could stand by our desks. I know technically I didn't need to be there, but I do care about my school and would hate anyone to think badly of me. Especially as I still don't know whether I'm going to have my pay cut, thanks to the new TLRs.

It's all very worrying.

I don't know who you are, Santa. But if you happen to be Ruth Kelly, thanks very much for the PPA time (when I can take it). It's been a big help and I feel my lessons have really benefited. The trouble is I seem to have more work than ever. More marking, more profiling, more pointless record-keeping and more hours searching for the next brilliant lesson idea on the internet. Why do I do it? I'm really looking forward to two weeks not having to be in work by seven-thirty. Teaching didn't used to be like this.

What I'd really like is a few days in a health spa, being spoilt and having all my worries soothed away, swapping stress-busting ideas with colleagues.

But that will never happen to me; I'm just a frontline teacher, after all.

I suppose I'll have to leave such perks to the head (see story, page 5).

Not that she doesn't deserve it after what she's gone through this year. I know you have a limited budget, Santa, so I'm won't ask for much. In fact, I only want one thing: understanding. If you have some to give, please sprinkle it around so everyone, from the top on down, can appreciate what I do. Oh, and a bottle of wine would do nicely.

Season's greetings, Love Teacher

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