What not to do - nothing

24th October 2003 at 01:00
Some things will never happen. There will never be world peace, EastEnders will never become cheerful. Behaviour consultants will continue to waste school money and the workload agreement will be broken daily a zillion times in each school. There was indeed some tension around the school when my deputy went to a meeting about the workload agreement.

Upon her return, she looked smug. It was like she had some inside knowledge and was keeping her cards close to her chest. Of course she did eventually tell us: she is pregnant, and coercion with chocolate is a powerful thing.

"What are we not supposed to do?"

"Nearly everything."

Staff should not be doing huge amounts of photocopying, collecting money, generating lists of names, cleaning, spending hours on planning and display etc. The staffroom was silent for a moment. Then, remembering the time, we shot out of our seats and busied ourselves with doing huge amounts of photocopying, collecting money from children for trips, raffles, concerts, discos and fetes, generating lists, cleaning and spending hours on display and planning.

As a well-trained sceptic, I watched as the new academic year unfolded, doubtful about whether I would be given any release time or be unburdened from doing any of the above. Half a term in and there is no change.

There are many reasons, but the main one is funding. Financially, schools cannot delegate responsibility to other non-teaching staff as they too have finally gained some bargaining power. It is a swings and roundabout effect: they will not do it unless they have more money; we will moan and say neither will we, but then we relent and do it because who suffers? The school and the children.

In an ideal world, teachers would be able to phone in and say: "I'm working from home today," without gasps of shock from the other end as they think about supply costs, mini-riots, marking, lunchtime clubs and playground duty.

I am sure there are teachers who spend every waking hour thinking about their job. I am not one of them. I enjoy it, but I do not obsess about it.

I spend 10 hours a day doing the job, using my time well and making sure that at 4pm I can go home and forget about it, except for once a week, when I sit down at my beloved home computer and do my planning for the following week.

I will not do any more. I want to work to live after all, not live for work.

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