Meet the teachers who choose to work through summer

Most teachers opt to spend their six-week break by the pool or catching up with friends. But the not these guys...

Some teachers say that taking up another job is as good as a rest in the summer holidays

The summer break usually means six weeks of alarm-free life, fun and essentially doing whatever you please.

But some teachers take a very different approach – and a second job. We spoke to three of them about how they use their holidays. 

Fey Cole, lecturer in early years at an FE college in Northern Ireland 

Fey does not stop working when the final bell rings for summer. Instead, she mixes volunteer work at the local church’s children’s club, designing project-based learning modules and creating resources to keep students busy during the summer holidays. 

She works a few hours every day and isn't paid for her time. But she says she finds these activities engaging and they relax her. 

She also says it means she can focus on specialist areas of her work, so she can stay “vocationally relevant” to her subject.

“When it’s term-time, I have students to focus on and wouldn’t have as much time for these things unless I wanted to work into evenings, which I don’t," she says. 

“I have a love of learning and an inquisitive nature, so I find it useful to enjoy activities like these." 

teacher summer job

Andy Lewis, director of RE at a secondary school in London 

Since the 2016 GCSE reforms, Andy Lewis has been spent his summers writing textbooks for teachers and revision guides for students. 

He first got involved with writing after he organised the conference the London RE Hub. Oxford University Press expressed interest in sponsoring the conference, and it was here that Lewis met with key representatives from the publishing house and his writing career took off.

Lewis says he feels "incredibly privileged" to see his name in print. 

But it was the implementation of the GCSE reforms that drove him to start spending the summers working. The changes were rushed, Lewis says, and so being able to help teachers and students during that time gave him “huge professional affirmation”. 

“What better way of being recognised as a teacher and subject specialist than for students all over the country using your published work?” he asks.  

While Lewis enjoys the role, he doesn’t recommend it as a money-maker.

“Anyone who thinks textbooks will mean early retirement is mistaken," he says. 

But what about getting rest and recuperation over the holidays? Lewis says that, for him, a change is as good as a rest.

“Textbook writing feels very different to the day job," he says. “Holding your own book in your hands is often the main motivation for it all."

This summer Lewis will be “busier than ever” with two books to write, yet he says he is looking forward to the rest of being away from school and the fresh mindset and sense of calm that writing brings him. 

Fran Lowe, English teacher at an independent school in Kent

Fran Lowe helps to run a children’s drama school in her six weeks off. 

As a child, she attended the summer school herself, then worked there as a teenager and is now part of the management team, working as director.

Although she dedicates four of her six weeks' holiday to the camp, she says the energy and passion it ignites in her means it doesn't feel like work.

“Money isn’t really the motivation, to be honest," she explains. "I get my expenses covered… and the chap in charge is honestly the most generous person I know; the team never seem to buy their own drinks or dinner during summer school.”

It feels like a family, she says, and she works there because she loves it.

“Summer school is exhausting, but, honestly, I can’t imagine August without it." 

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