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.

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