Our time off

29th August 1997 at 01:00
St Martin's Church of England Primary School in Scarborough takes 250 children from 30 or 40 parishes which make up the Scarborough deanery. It is an academically high-achieving school with a largely middle-class intake.

Michael Bartoft, 52, is a Year 6 teacher who spends his holiday running The Waffle Shop on Scarborough's North Beach, a family business started by his father in 1946.

"I spend all my time down at the waffle shop unless it's bad weather and then I'm in here (school) which means I'm one of the best prepared teachers in the country because we get bad weather a lot of the time.

"I'm at the shop from nine in the morning until 10 o'clock at night but it's easier than teaching. First of all you look at the weather forecast and that decides what needs to be ordered because on a rainy day you won't take a penny. I started working there when I was 11, and in 1976 I packed in teaching for several years because you could make more in the waffle shop in three months than in a year of teaching - we had 10 or 11 staff and 14 waffle machines. But it's not like that now, we've only got five machines.

"I don't mind not having a break in the holiday. It's a question of mental attitude - if you're not expecting a break you don't need one. I get a break from staff and kids, though pupils visit me, and that's nice, and ex-pupils ask for jobs. I'm employing one this summer, he's studying to be a doctor.

"People don't know I'm a teacher and when other teachers with school parties visit the shop I say things like 'You teachers have it easy.' I love winding them up. You meet people from all walks of life and that's a change since parents here (school) are middle class on the whole.

"Getting rid of drunks can be a problem, though being a teacher helps you know how to handle people; you have that automatic note of authority in your voice and that's useful. I can organise a queue in no time at all.

"You can make all the jokes you like about waffle and teaching, I've heard them all, but I'm probably the biggest waffler there is. I can talk the hind legs off a donkey. All teachers, we're all tarred with the same brush, we like to stand up and show off and that helps in the waffle trade, especially these days when you need all the customers you can get.

"But I think I'll sell up and travel around to see the sights - meet people. Both our daughters live abroad and my wife and I plan to go somewhere significant each year. Next year it will be Australia for at least a month. "

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