'You just don't shut off'

Chris Baxter, 45, has been a teacher for 24 years and earns pound;32,000 at Mount Pleasant junior in Southampton.

She is married to an ambulance driver and has a daughter aged 18 and a son aged 16. She is a home owner with a family mortgage of pound;530 a month.

Her daughter is at university, costing the family another several hundred pounds a month.

She became a primary teacher because she always enjoyed the atmosphere and found she was good at it. It is still a vocation.

Mrs Baxter leaves home at 8am and rarely gets home before 5.30pm, often staying after school to prepare for the next day and to attend staff meetings. She eats alone at home at around 6.15pm, although her husband cooks.

The rest of an evening is probably filled by talking to friends on the phone, watching television, having a bath and falling into bed at 10.30pm.

She laments the fact that she does not read many books anymore.

Every Sunday she takes her son into Southampton for a meal together: "It's my time to catch up with him," she says before settling down to three or four hours of preparation work for the week.

She feels her workload has increased, especially this year with the emphasis on cross curricular teaching, and although she tries not to take work home during the week, she often does. But she makes sure she goes out once or twice a week and also on a Saturday to see friends.

Every Thursday, she and an old girlfriend, a former teacher, go late night shopping before going to their favourite Italian restaurant where they know the staff well.

"Work is always in the back of my mind, even at the weekend, you just don't shut off," she said. "I am very happy, but I do sometimes wish there was just more time, and, of course, money."


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