The Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement is full of interesting and bemusing information. Take clause 2.10 1, for example…
“2.10 1 The normal hours of work hours of work for employees should as far as practicable not exceed 40 hours per week Monday to Friday”
“Employees shall work such hours as may be reasonably required of them… whether or not such hours exceed 40 hours per week.”
Full-time primary school teachers generally have 25 hours a week contact time in the classroom, plus lunch and break duties, staff meetings, professional development meetings, planning and preparation to do. For most, that’s feasible within 40 or so hours… but what about the rest?
What about planning? Marking? Making resources? Meetings with support staff? Parent/teacher conferences? Report writing? Planning trips?
What about meeting with RTLBs, speech therapists, Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams, or other specialists?
Or attending overnight camp? Running extra-curricular clubs? Setting up and running exhibitions of students’ work Production evenings?
Putting up and taking down displays? Fundraising events? Compliance stuff for the Education Council?
So which bit of clause 2:10 1 takes precedent? The “40 hours” bit or the “such hours as may be reasonably required of them” bit?
At what point does the workload stop being reasonable?
For the Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement 2015-2018, see here.
I sit here typing this at 6.20 in the morning because that is the only spare time I have to do this. I hear all the time of teachers who leave their job at 3.30, that start at 9 and have loads of holidays to do as they will.
I just wish I was one of those.
I have been teaching now for 19 years and this should be easier.
I spend at least 2 hours every day marking just to keep up.
We have fabulous new ideas called ‘responding to marking’ which means marking in depth, setting new activities or ‘gap tasks’ and ensuring the children complete those before the next lesson. I have a large amount of stickers and stamps but have still used up the ink in 6 purple pens since September.
We have been told Ofsted do not require unnecessary levels of marking so we will see if things change but I won’t hold my breath.
Our education system is now based on finances and results.
My pay is now dependent on my children achieving the results that were set before I even started working at the school. I get observed 3 times a year and have to achieve 60% outstanding to be seen as value for money.
The observations will be carried out by those ultimately responsible for managing and setting the school budget. You can make your own observations about that!
Tests and more tests are the everyday life for children in our schools.
They start in year 1 with our now legendary phonics screening check that measures decoding skills and is passed off as a reading test. The children get a nice little tag with pass or fail on it at 6 years old. As a teacher this goes against everything I believe. I am forced to label my children as failures at only 6 years of age.
If the children in your school struggle with these tests and your results suffer then you are exposed to the OFSTED machine that descends upon schools and puts them into a state of fear and misery.
Then if they are judged as failing, the whole school can then be sold off to the highest academy bidder. Land is then sold off, new uniforms ordered, a bit of new building works to impress parents and off you go.
Teachers are forced into school at 7am, expected to work including after school clubs until 6pm. There are even Saturday school sessions where staff are expected to attend.
We have a dedicated work force who have put up with a lot over the last years but there are signs this is changing.
We have teachers walking out of the profession even in difficult financial times.
I honestly feel if this does not change you will have a teacher shortage and a dominance of teachers who are so beaten down they cannot hope to perform to the best of their ability.
And who will suffer? The children who our government say are at the heart of what they do……
by Jennie Harper, UK Teacher