A 35-hour week? If only

7th October 2011 at 01:00

I am a principal teacher of modern languages. Most weeks, Monday to Friday, I work in school from 8:15am-5:30pm with two lavatory breaks on a really good day, and a lunchtime consisting of reacting to any problems, plus 10 minutes sandwich and reading FrenchGerman press online, plus setting up the next lesson. (Or maybe just quick sandwich plus extra tuition.)

What is more, teaching is about planning, responding, consultation, resource-gathering, inspiration-gathering, and risk-taking. How would you finish a teaching week just before the S1s go on their first residential experience? Get them to write poems about volcanoes in French?

I did. It worked. Did I have to prepare the ground very carefully? Of course I did.

It can take as long to prepare a lesson as it does to deliver it, and by next year you probably have new insights which make you rewrite the whole thing all over again. We are not babysitters.

At the end of my day, I pick up my husband from the station, heat up the meal I cooked at the weekend, then work a further one to five hours at home.

I kept a very careful work diary earlier this year, which showed an average 56-hour week.

My departmental team are at their posts well before the start of play and long after the end of the pupil day, and we have to force ourselves to switch off for part of the weekend in order to have a bit of normal familymarital life.

Oh - and during our week we can also be sent to fill a couple of gaps per week in physics, music, history, RE, HE ...

Am I scared by the McCormac report's requirement to stay in school for 35 hours? No. I am insulted.

Name and address supplied.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today