Pity the two teacher family

26th January 2001 at 00:00
Now that the McCrone agreement is done and dusted, it might very well be that, looking beyond the tabloid headlines of "23 per cent pay rise", the most far-reaching and effective sections are those that deal with workload and administrative support.

For all the stress caused by unruly classes, quality assurance and the need to meet ever increasing targets, for the average teacher, the struggle to organise all the paperwork alongside the teaching, preparation, assessment and personal development, is the one that causes most grief.

Inevitably, this stretches beyond the elasticated school day and into our homes - and this is when the fun begins. I live in a family of two teachers and an S2 pupil, attending three different schools in two different authorities. This means a duplication, at least, of many school activities, be it Christmas concerts, awards evenings, parents' nights and, on occasion, even different holiday dates.

If my wife or I aren't writing reports, then my son is liable to be preparing for an assessment or attending extra orchestra rehearsals. Pressure points in our various schools assume a rolling pattern, so that you can be assured that at least one of us will be under abnormal pressure in any given week.

I know from speaking to colleagues that this is not unusual. Indeed, one friendclaims that you can spot the homes with two teachers in them because they are always untidy and have piles of washing waiting to be ironed. In the cases where this is not true, it tends to mean the couple go to bed at two in the morning, or sacrifice family weekends to routine house management chores rather than family expeditions.

Sometimes it feels that when other "normal" families are discussing holiday plans, teaching couples are looking at dates when they will be able to tidy the lounge and clear out three months of The TES Scotland from under the bed.

On Christmas Eve (that's the day when, having completed the school festivities, teachers start to think about their family's Christmas) I was looking for drawing-pins to hang up the cards - those still sent by the friends who understand why we're too busy to invite them round for a meal these days. Such is the chaos of our house I couldn't quite find them.

Indeed, before I found any drawing-pins I found the little box of First World War shrapnel I brought back from Flanders to gee up my war poetry lessons.

When shrapnel from the Ypres salient is easier to find than drawing-pins, it strikes me that another review is needed. We've decided to invite Gavin McCrone round to ours for tea - once we've cleared the dining-room table, of course.

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