Just how long is a long day?

3rd May 1996 at 01:00
It is perfectly true to say that the average primary teacher is in front of a class for 86 per cent of the "school day" compared to the secondary teacher's 75 per cent (TES, April 19).

It is also true to say, however, that the "school day" is a longer one in total in the secondary sector. Eighty-six per cent of a short day might not be so different from 75 per cent of a long day.

It would also be true to say that there are about seven to eight times more heads within the primary sector than in the secondary sector, and they tend to do no teaching - all those primary heads seem to be hogging too much of the available free time. It is also true to say that far more parents' meetings take place in the secondary sector, further lengthening a long day.

If comparisons are to be made, it is better to make them fully and completely; the selection of a couple of isolated percentages it not really helpful. Perhaps we should accept that the two sectors are different, doing jobs that are different and requiring conditions of service, and indeed pay, that should be different.

JOHN KELLY 4 Gwynant Crescent Cardiff Wales

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