Why Eddie has his wife's headache

Eddie Bartlett is cheesed off, and happy to say so. Eddie, a plumber in a small Dorset town, is struggling to cope with long hours, weekend working, and stress.

His wife's stress, that is. According to Eddie, she is putting in 70 hours a week as deputy head of a primary school. And now she finds her path to professional advancement is blocked by something called the NPQH.

Like most people, she believes that the new National Professional Qualification for Headteachers will soon become essential for anyone wanting a headship. Which is to say that on top of her current working week, Mrs Bartlett must now fit in 10 full Saturdays working from 8am until 6pm. Plus homework.

"My wife's a hard-working lady," says Mr Bartlett. "On a school day she leaves at 7.30am and gets home at 6pm. She also works a whole day each weekend. I clock my wife at a 70-hour week. She comes home totally shattered.

"She's already done a postgraduate course, an MEd, on the understanding that this was the way to get promotion. Suddenly she's told this is irrelevant. And that anything she did more than three years ago is also irrelevant.

"How can the Government expect these people to perform one of the hardest jobs in the school, and try to do this course at the same time? People have responsibilities outside the school. I'm cheesed off, I really am."

Headteachers' leaders agree with him. "Quite clearly there is a significant issue to do with the time candidates are expected to spend out of school while they're working for this qualification," says David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

"We need to ensure that these people, and their schools, are properly funded so that they're not placed at a disadvantage.

"The Teacher Training Agency needs to be sensitive about potentially excessive hours which have to be spent by candidates outside their normal working hours. If the NPQH is to be compulsory, then all candidates must be properly funded and must have an equal chance. " school management, TES2, page 25

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