Longer hours will destroy teachers

16th March 2001 at 00:00
Hilary Moriarty (Talkback, February 23) seems to have at least two heads, one of which talks eminent sense while the other resolutely faces away from reality.

I had no idea of the likely impact of extending the literacy and numeracy strategies into the secondary sector. She certainly opened my eyes to the difficulties.

But the suggestion that the week will need extending to 26 hours will go down like a lead balloon. To say blithely that "conscientious teachers will respondI by working harder, working longerI and they will volunteer to do it" is faintly ludicrous. As a person involved in helping teachers who have cracked up under the strain of trying to cope with "initiatives" and working for senior mangement who expect 1,000 per cent commitment, I take exception to any suggestion that the school day be extended, that teachers must work longer, that (and this is implied) if they don't want to work longer, "seeing more of their pupils and less of their families", they are not "conscientious teachers".

A 26-hour week means at least 50 hours (planning, preparation, marking, testing, reporting, assessing, meetings, professional development). Teachers who take on the extra work are lauded as "conscientious professionals" by the same management who quickly back away and say "but they brought it on themselves, they volunteered" when the teacher cracks up.

Brian Waggett, bwaggett@sefton.atl.org.uk

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