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A day in the working life of Mrs Typical

A TES teacher poll paints a surprising picture of general well-being, with workload the only real bugbear of the profession, Biddy Passmore reports. Sue Learner talks to teachers around the country

To those struggling daily with the remnants of a railway system, it sounds like heaven.

The typical teacher wakes up in her own detached house, feeling comfortably off and reasonably content with life, even though the head on the next pillow is likely to be that of another teacher. (Nearly one in three married teachers has a teacher spouse.) Then (this is the heavenly bit), between 7.30 and 8am , she climbs into a moderately powerful car, less than four years old and takes less than 20 minutes to get to work.

Our typical teacher faces a busy and stressful day. The job is more pressured than last year, and it is worse for heads and heads of department. If she thinks of throwing in the towel, the reason is too much work rather than too little pay. But she certainly does not want to see classroom assistants taking over the rewarding bits.

She probably will not get home again until 5.30 to 6pm. The end of the school day does not mean the end of her day's work. She probably has another hour or two of marking and preparation ahead of her and it might well be more. Her PC is waiting for her.

Does she reach for a consoling glass? Well, perhaps just the one. She has a few colleagues who drink more than they should but she knows almost as many who drink nothing at all. She drinks just a unit a day or saves it all up for the one night a week she goes out.

On this dark, February day, she starts thinking of the summer. A good two weeks will put back some of what the classroom has taken out. Should it be France, Spain, Portugal or Greece? The head's off to Canada and a fair number of colleagues will stick to the UK. But she wants some sun. So she climbs into bed and snuggles up to her teacher husband with some brochures.

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