Long holidays? Damn right and well deserved
Updated: Oct 7
For teachers, a break this July and August is more well-deserved and necessary than ever. But with friends working around 48 weeks a year and looking back on their school days it’s easy to understand why they think we have massive breaks compared to them.
Anyone who has taught has probably had to face a raised eyebrow, a sneer or a full-scale rebuke when talking about how much we need holidays. We really do need them but still I have felt the need to justify what can look like a 36-week working year as follows:
Defensive and diffident
1. Teachers are value workers not shift workers. Our output is how we transform and improve the lives of children. This is measured by how much progress they show, not how many hours we have clocked-up in schools.
2. If office workers put in hours after the end of their working day they are be paid overtime or be given time off in lieu. Teachers don’t have this compensation.
3. Unlike an office there is little or no down-time in a school. It’s 100% on all the time.
4. Many teachers cannot actually count a full four weeks in a year when they aren’t working. The four or five weeks of holiday a typical worker receives is their free time and they aren’t expected to use it to catch up, reorganise and prepare.
5. Who should we compare the teacher to? So many professional people are paid by performance and our quality is measured by the work in the hours not the hours of the work.
Confident and assertive
6. We are enormously lucky to have great jobs with longer holidays than most people!
7. Nothing has more value to any parent than their child. It is right that those charged with teaching them should, like the children, be given time to rest and regenerate at the end of a term.
8. We are paid for our term-time teaching with payments spread over 12 months.
9. In 2018 National Foundation for Education Research found that full-time teachers work the equivalent of 45 hours per week if spread across the number of weeks worked by other professions throughout a full year. They stated that the long hours worked by teachers during term time “substantially exceed” the extra time they get off work during school holidays.
10. If you aren’t a teacher, how did you find life doing our job in lockdown? Are you ready for a rest now?
Peter Hogan has been the Head of schools in the UK and Asia for 20 years. He writes about schools, teaching and learning here at hogan.education and is a qualified Life Coach. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Cartoon by Colm Cuffe www.instagram.com/whensithometime