The break is hard work for everyone

25th July 2008 at 01:00

Everyone deserves a holiday, whether it is a month in the Caribbean, caravanning around Britain or simply staying at home away from the work environment (page 1).

Parents look on in envy at the six-week teaching break as they contemplate how much cash they will have to spend on childcare and other outings to keep their children amused.

But is the long teaching holiday a fallacy in today's changing world? Our poll of 100 heads and teachers suggests it is.

The British public is working longer hours than ever before, study after study has suggested. It is no different for teachers, particularly heads, who sometimes work up to 60 hours every week coping with obligatory pen-pushing.

The head in our poll who cites the time he received a work call while enjoying panoramic views from the Spanish mountains, will not be alone in his frustration. Eluned Davies, head at Bangor primary school Ysgol Rhiwlas, spends most of the summer ensuring her school is in good working order. This can involve anything from making sure the piano is tuned to keeping the roof free of leaks.

This seems to be part of a general trend in Britain. Teachers, however, have the added stress of dealing with other people's children day in, day out. How many parents admit it is a break when they go to work?

Teacher Support Cymru, a charity looking after the wellbeing of teachers, issued a press release last week urging the profession to take a break this summer - even spending some "me" time away from their own children.

After an academic year of doom and gloom, including teacher strikes over less-than-satisfactory pay deals, serious funding problems and the rising cost of living, all teachers should feel they deserve to put their feet up for a few weeks.

But they are also right to spare a thought for the parents, who will struggle this summer to take over where they left off.

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