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Teachers' spouses have their grouses

Neil Sears on the house-husband who is setting up a support group to help an oppressed minority

They have suffered in silence for decades - but the oppressed minority whose lives are made a misery because they are married to teachers are finally speaking out.

Tired of being treated like children in their own homes, weary of hearing their partners complain night after night about the pressures of OFSTED inspections and marking homework, teachers' spouses are forming their own support group.

The initiative has been taken by Peter Lewis, of Sheffield, who believes there must be thousands like him who have trouble coping with life with a teacher.

"I'm a house-husband and I have three problems," he said. "The first is that it's normal to be a housewife, but not a house-husband: nobody at nursery school talks to us and I'm not invited to the ladies' houses.

"The second is that I'm 57, and we've just had our first child, David, after fertility treatment, and that everyone thinks I'm his grandad not his dad.

"The third is that I'm married to a teacher - and being married to a teacher is the worst problem of all. We have no home life: home is just an extension of school."

Mr Lewis has appealed through the pages of The Career Teacher, published by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, for other subjugated spouses to contact him so they can share their problems and lobby for a reduction in school workloads.

"My wife works in an inner-city primary school and has to deal with very difficult behaviour - and it all comes back to me," he said. "She never stops work: she goes out at the crack of dawn, works through her breaks, comes back absolutely shattered and still has to work preparing for the next day.

"She takes it out on me: we husbands and wives of teachers find that our partners come home and can't take their teaching hats off. They treat you like one of their pupils. One has to do a heck of a lot of listening, and because teachers are taught to be critical they always feel they have to win an argument."

Unfortunately, as a result of seeking help Mr Lewis may be ordered to don a dunce's cap and stand in the corner. Mrs Lewis, it appears, does not approve of support groups.

"I have to be careful because she's very unkeen on her name or her school's name being mentioned," whispered Mr Lewis.

Mr Lewis can be contacted by other harassed partners of teachers on 0114 287 3087.

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