What keeps me awake at night?

Schools love part-timers - we work for nothing

Teaching is a demanding profession - indeed, you could call it a vocation. Teachers work all hours; we put in long days during the week, at the weekends and in our holidays. This job can take it out of you. It's unsurprising, then, that so many teachers decide to change careers.

But there is an alternative, or so I thought: going part-time. It is an enticing idea for teachers, especially those who have busy lives outside the classroom.

But teaching takes advantage of part-timers in a big way. The whole notion of part-time is a con.

I could be generous and say that teaching just doesn't always have the flexibility to accommodate part-time workers' preferences, but the issue is more insidious than this. The education system knowingly takes advantage of part-timers.

Let's say you don't work on a Friday. However, this Friday is celebration assembly day, charity day, cross-country race day, grandparents' day, Nativity play day, bring your rabbit to school day. The pressure to show up - from staff, children and parents - is immense. It would be considered rude not to attend.

Will you get paid, though? Dare you even ask for payment? Of course not, it just isn't done. "There has to be some give and take," the bosses say. There's a lot of give from you and a lot of take from them, you realise.

You change your day off to a Thursday, only to find that it is school trip day, match day, parents' evening day, the European Day of Languages, dog show day. You'd better pop in. Will you get paid? Nope. It's give and take, remember?

And that's before you consider the number of unpaid hours spent at home preparing for the days when you do get paid - planning, marking, analysing, responding to emails, writing policies and reports. You face disciplinary action if you do not complete these essential aspects of your job.

Schools love part-timers because we do so much work for nothing. And that keeps me awake at night.

The writer works as a primary teacher in West Sussex

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

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