Night and day;Personal finance

29th May 1998 at 01:00
More and more teachers are takingon extra paid evening work. But doesn't their day job suffer? Phil Revell talks to two such 'moonlighters'

A ceilidh band is packing up after a long evening in a crowded hall in Bristol. Tired dancers have wandered home, but Alan, who plays guitar and keyboards, will only fall into bed at 4am after a long drive back to the Midlands.

In London the following even-ing Janice is easing away the stresses of a client who has been a regular at her reflexology sessions for several years.

So what is the common denominator between the reflexologist and the musician? They are both full-time teachers.

Three of Alan's seven-strong band are teachers - the combination of teachers and folk music is a stereotype that he acknowledges, with a caveat: nowadays there are just as many computer programmers and social workers on the circuit.

A typical evening can yield pound;400 to pound;500, which sounds a lot until the seven-way split is considered. Alan, a maths teacher in a comprehensive, explains that the band "is a social thing" - a self-financing hobby that enables him to remain involved in folk music.

He plays most weekends and there is an occasional midweek gig. But he doesn't see any conflict between teaching and music, or feel that his school work suffers. "Other people have a social life . . . I play in a band."

Janice is a special needs co-ordinator in a north London school. She is also a trained masseuse, reflexologist and aromatherapist. And a popular one - she is booked up until July next year, and one client has reserved Tuesday evening sessions with Janice for the rest of her life.

"I could do it full time," she says, "but I like the buzz of the teaching job." A lot of Janice's clients are teachers and she feels that the therapy is an effective way to deal with the stresses of the job. "It is quite calming for me as well."

Janice believes that doctors have become much more aware of alternative therapies during the past 10 years. "GPs will recommend aromatherapy now," she says. "It has become more acceptable during the time I have been practising." (Reflexology involves intensive massage of the base of the foot, where the body's nerves are believed to concentrate, while aromatherapy uses purified oils to effect healing and balance.) Janice charges about pound;25 a session, considerably cheaper than most salons' rates (pound;40 for a one-hour session in London). Although her earnings depend on her bookings, she can make up to pound;250 extra a week from her alternative therapy treatments.

Both Alan and Janice say that they enjoy being able to switch off from teaching and concentrate on something totally different. But both are aware that they could be accused of neglecting their day job, and so ask to remain anonymous.

Some employers take a dim view of what could be seen as moonlighting. Tim Harrison, London official of the National Union of Teachers, feels that teachers with a paid outside interest should check their contract to establish precisely where they stand before doing any additional paid work.

Any problems can probably be sorted out by talking things through with the headteacher, he says. In any case, contracts that attempt to prevent any paid work outside the school are difficult to enforce.

Teachers contemplating an extra job that could damage a school's reputation, such as lap dancing, for example, might obviously encounter difficulties. But many teachers are already doing paid work outside school, albeit more humdrum, ranging from selling cosmetics on commission to producing educational resources.

Some see such work as an escape route that can be used if teaching becomes unbearable. Janice has no immediate desire to leave the day job but admits:

"It's good to feel that there is something else that I can do."

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