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Worse than half-baked

At 12.15am on November 12 last year, I wrote a letter to Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett.

I had been reading an article in which one of those clever advisers to the minister had floated the idea of making teachers work longer hours. While I was writing the letter, my wife - who is head of a very successful history department in a comprehensive school - was finishing her marking and preparation for her classes the next day. She began at 6.30pm.

This is a daily workload through the term and she puts in another 12 hours or so at weekends. During the so-called Christmas holidays, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, she also worked four hours a day. This situation will be all too familiar to her fellow professionals.

In January, I received a reply stating that the Government had "no intention of increasing teachers' hours". On January 23, your front-page article proved, yet again, that the Government's left hand knows not what its right is doing. In the same edition of the The TES, two unions, the National Association of School Masters Union of Women Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers proposed action because of excessive workloads.

Recent surveys show that teachers already average at least 51 hours a week. Over the year it adds up to more hours worked than those in other employment, including MPs, ministers and civil servants with their vastly-inflated salaries and long, long holidays.

As a way of improving standards in education or attracting more or better recruits to the profession, the idea of extending teachers' hours is worse than half-baked.

EI ATTEWELL

Chappel Road Great Tey Colchester, Essex

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