Staff still like to display their wares

21st September 2007 at 01:00
BONNIE LAIRD, Year 1 teacher at Peartree Spring Infants in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, is devoted to her displays. "I love them," she said. "Displays are one of the highlights of my job. I would not want to give it up. I did art and teaching for my degree.

"When I'm working with the children they do creative art, but my creativity comes out when I am doing the displays. It's my turn to let loose. I really do go to town."

The School Teachers' Review Body survey found that four years after being told to hand over 25 "routine" tasks to support staff, primary teachers still spend two hours a week on tasks such as photocopying, classroom displays, record keeping and administration.

Classroom displays were one of the most controversial inclusions in the list, with many primary teachers saying they preferred to put them up themselves. The survey shows that on average they now spend 35 minutes a week on displays, compared with just over an hour in staff meetings and more than two hours setting up classrooms.

Miss Laird said: "There is an art display, which I do for each year group, in the corridor. In the classroom, each teacher does their own displays. I enjoy putting up my displays and making them personal."

At Peartree Spring, the importance of high-quality display is such that even headteacher, Julie Legg, joins in. She said: "I always put up the front entrance display, sometimes supported by the relevant teacher. It's an important part of my job and sets the tone throughout the school."

John Bangs, head of education for the National Union of Teachers, is relaxed about teachers hanging on to their displays. He said: "Our guidance is to use their professional judgment when deciding whether or not to delegate this task."

But not all tasks have an obvious educational impact. Primary teachers also spend 25 minutes a week on clerical tasks such as photocopying. Miss Laird said: "I don't touch the photocopier. My teaching assistant used to do it but because her responsibilities have increased, we now have secretarial support."

The survey found that primary teachers spend an average 12 minutes a week covering for absent colleagues compared with secondary teachers, who spend up to an hour covering. It is primary heads who step into the breach, spending almost an hour each week on cover in addition to having an average of two hours' timetabled teaching.

A TES survey this year revealed that more than half of heads take booster classes.

The STRB found that primary teachers aged over 55 and between 25 and 35 worked the fewest hours. Those aged 45-54 and under 25 worked most, although all teachers worked more than 50 hours a week. Year 3 teachers worked on average 53.8 hours more than Year 6, who put in 53.4 hours. Reception teachers clocked up 49.3 hours a week.

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