Hourly rate

2nd November 2007 at 00:00
Sara Bubb with some timely advice on quality not quantity.A new half-term calls for some new ways of working. Do you know how many hours you spend on the job? I know adding them up is another thing to do, but you need to spend time to save time. It will empower you to make changes.

The average working week for classroom teachers is about 52 hours. But when 78 new primary teachers in Lambeth, south London, logged their hours from Thursday, October 11, to Wednesday, October 17, it produced surprising results.

After adding up all the time they spent on school stuff, in school, at home and during the commute, the range was amazing. One teacher worked 44 hours, while another clocked up 88. That's twice as much - and for the same pay. A new teacher in inner London takes home about pound;360 a week after deductions so the hourly rate for someone working 44 hours is about pound;8 but only pound;4 for someone working 88 hours.

If you don't want to run yourself into the ground, you need to make this wonderful but all-consuming job manageable. Find out what eats up more time than it should.

Then set some limits to your working day. Think about the quality of your time as well as the quantity available. About 20 per cent of every working day is prime time and, used well, should produce the best work. The rest of your time will be nowhere near as productive - and flogging yourself when you're tired is mad.

You could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and still find things to do. The trick is to prioritise so that the essential things get done, and what doesn't get done has minimal consequences. Don't be a perfectionist: "good enough" will do because the risk of burnout is very real. The profession is haemorrhaging people within the first five years. You, as the new generation of teachers, need to make this job manageable so that you stick with it - and enjoy it.

Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. Her Successful Induction for New Teachers has just been published by Paul Chapman, pound;18.99.

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