It takes 14 hours a day to do a good job

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
I AM head of Year 10 and a teacher of religious education at Alderbrook school in Solihull.

On Friday, February 9, I arrived in school between 7.30 and 7.45am, as usual. Besides working a full teaching day, with no non-contact time, I did the following:

Counselled a 15-year-old pupil who disclosed that she was self-harming; spoke to the child's mother on the telephone and then discussed the problems with the mother in an interview in school; ran to and from my classroom, having made "local arrangements" with understanding colleagues to "watch my classes", met with six pupils during morning break to "sort" day-to-day pastoral matters; spoke to numerous pupils and colleagues in passing in the corridors about a miscellany of pastoral, management and learning issues; began counselling of a child over serious conflicts between her divorced parents; had a 10-minute lunch break.

Did lunch-time duty; dealt with an incident of serious bullying and assault; issued requests to colleagues for internl reports on five pupils; stayed late to catch up on telephone calls to parents and do paperwork. I made all the calls but only managed to scratch the surface of the paperwork.

I am not the only one working like this. A fellow head of year called into my office on her way home. It was 7pm. I left school at 9pm. I arrived home at 9.20 to wish my wife a happy 50th birthday. She, incidentally, is caring, understanding and supportive - but, she's worried about me.

This workload is not rewarded in our pay. Furthermore, the realities of what teachers actually do and their working conditions are not reflected in the ridiculous performance-management scheme. I haven't heard yet whether I have passed the threshold standards.

Perversely, I hope not, because then I'll feel justified in arriving at 8.45am, taking proper breaks and leaving for home at 3.45pm. The trouble is, I love teaching and want to do a good job.

Louis Kavanagh

15 Chartwell Drive

Cheswick Green, Solihull


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now