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Letters extra: too much to do

I read with interest Jill Parkin's article of Januarynbsp;18, for it seemed to encapsulate many of my own frustrations as a teacher for the past 15 years.

Teaching never has been and never will be easy - maintaining a high performance is draining for even the most experienced and enthusiastic. Returning home after a hard day to face another three hours preparation and frequently devoting eight to 10 hours a weekend plus 30 hours over the holiday is, in my experience, typical.

During my career I have observed an incredible growth in the number of demands placed on teachers. Many of these initiatives I have whole-heartedly supported, such as coursework and target setting, providing appropriate time isnbsp;allowed to complete them.

However, I think myself and many other colleagues could be more tolerant of this if we felt we were supported by our senior managers. Unfortunately this is often not the case and senior staff take an increasingly aggressive and punitive approach to staff, all in the name of accountability. Many school staffrooms now have a "them and us" atmosphere with staff meetings often punctuated with references made to competency, contractual responsibilities and litigation. Alternatively they sometimes use a divide and rule tactic to encourage competition between departments which invariably leads to tension and breakdown in co-operation.

Furthermore target-setting, while laudable, is sometimes manipulated by headteachers to set unrealistic targets which neither the majority of staff nor students can hope to achieve.

I acknowledge that these comments do not apply to all schools, many of which are inspirationally managed by a dynamic and supportive senior team. However I do believe that unless this issue and that of unreasonable workload is addressed quickly it will not be only new teachers who seek an early escape but an increasing number of talented and experienced ones.

(Name and address supplied)

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