Please Sir, can I have my wife back?

Paul Busby's picture
I am married to a primary school teacher. Sunday's used to be family days. Now? Every Sunday has become a full workday. It began by stealth - just a few hours each Sunday afternoon but now, with increasing pressure on planning and observations, it has become a full 8 hour day.

Teachers work 195 days each year in school. For our family, this has risen to 234 days inc. Sunday. Given that there are 260 working days in a year, 8 of which are public/bank holidays, that leaves just 252 working days left. So, as a family, we have no full weekends for 39 weeks of the year and only 18 working days - less than four working weeks - remaining. Should this relentless drive to impose such a burden on teachers really be allowed to continue unchecked?

How many children and spouses of parents have become unwilling victims of this intolerable workload?

How many teachers are suffering the impact upon their health by taking medication in order to survive? Can we really class ourselves as a "civilised society" when we treat dedicated professionals like this?

Our teachers have become data slaves to an education system that has lost sight of how to measure "what a good teacher is'' without a spread sheet.

Please, Sir, give me back my wife.
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Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 26/01/2015 - 16:39

Paul - I can sympathise. I was just such a teacher. Working every night and on Sundays during term time. I spent holidays (the long ones teachers are supposed to get) catching up on marking, report writing, lesson planning. One Christmas holiday I took just one day off - Christmas day. The rest of the time was spent marking mock exams for 3 GCSE classes and writing Y11 reports for these classes.

I eventually went on early retirement - I was burnt out.

Worse - I feel I put other people's children before my own.

mistemina's picture
Mon, 26/01/2015 - 17:15

Support for Paul & Janet,
We have a dear friend, was gregarious, full of life.
Now is visibly showing signs of stress, pressure, is glad to have a legitimate excuse to go out.
The new Minister of Education has to address this, she must realise money is not everything.

John Mountford's picture
Mon, 26/01/2015 - 17:38

I began teaching in 1971. Thirty years later I took early retirement on health grounds. In that time, my workload increased, and not only because I sought to add to my professional arsenal and progress to more senior posts. Of one thing I am certain, at no point did I work as hard as I see teachers working today, if they want to do the job to the 'expected' standard and deliver all the fast-changing, dubious, politically favoured policies dreamed up by the 'clear-sighted' leaders of education reform. You and your family have my have my sympathy. Paul, there is a solution.

The teaching profession, despite (and not because of) the reckless pace of education reform has progressed to a higher level today than at any time in the past. More teachers and school leaders are asking more searching questions of themselves about their roles and about the deep purpose of the task they are engaged in. This should be a time of great promise for the future of our society, as witnessed through the lives of all our young people. But, it isn't working out that way! Why?

In my view there is no justification for education to remain tied to party politics and the electoral system where it falls victim to the absurd notion that at a given point in time a single party has all 'the answers' when it comes to the governance of education. There are lots of good sound reasons why this is silly, but, and this is the rub, exactly how can they be sure how long they will get in office to carry through their specific reforms before some other bright spark comes along to pull reform in the opposite direction? This is why there are NO long-term plans for the future of education. What's the point when another lot could be at the helm in four years time?

Paul, you have identified a number of really important questions in your plea to have your family life normalised. I have no doubt that your story is repeated thousands fold across the country.

In response, I have only one question. When will the electorate, especially those with families with children of school age, wake up to the fact that if they don't demand a change and support the call for a National Commission for Education, the plight of teachers and the children they teach will remain blighted by political short-termism indefinitely?

R Waring's picture
Tue, 27/01/2015 - 14:31

Has the statutory workload increased, ie the s....tuff (you thought I was going to say something else then), that must be done, or is this extra stuff just unnecessary bureaucracy, (but perceived to be necessary (by non teaching SLT))?

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