IT WAS with a profound sense of relief that I read David Blunkett's recent diktat: "Teachers will be contracted to work until 5pm."
At last, an Education Secretary who finally understands the demands of the profession. By contracting teachers to work their 1,265 hours per annum in the classroom for the direct benefit of the children, he has shown a foresight that was not displayed by previous ministers for education.
How radical, banishing at a swoop all that time-wasting nonsense associated with staffmanagement meetings, the preparation of "mission statements", target-setting, progress reports, monitoring, parents' evenings, value-added analysis and much else besides.
How energising it is to realise that working through one's lunch hour, after-school homework sessions, mentoring schemes, dance clubs, music nights, theatre visits, Satrday sporting fixtures, etc, all voluntarily undertaken, will soon be things of the past as teachers reclaim their lives.
I, for one, am delighted with his perceptive analysis of what is needed in education.
Although the worryingly negative message contained in his intended "close inspection" of teachers' absences in local authority schools, despite worse records in both the public and private sectors would not have enhanced his visionary status.
But, hey, you can't expect busy politicians to get every soundbite right, can you?
I eagerly look forward to leaving my place of employment an hour or so earlier than normal, unburdened by marking or preparation, able to bask in the bosom of my family during my newly-acquired evenings and weekends.
West Hatch high school