For teachers, a break in July and August is well-deserved and necessary. 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. So why do we need them?
1. Teachers are value 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. Long hours are assumed and unrewarded. When we put in hours after the end of the working day we aren't paid overtime or given time off in lieu.
3. 100% on all the time. Unlike an office there is little or no down-time in a school.
4. We work in our holidays. Unlike tecahers, 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. It's the work in the hours not the hours of the work. Many professional people are paid by performance and quality measured-why not tecahing?.
6. Good fortune. We are enormously lucky to have great jobs with longer holidays than most people!
7. Children first. 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. An annual salary. We are paid for our term-time teaching with payments spread over 12 months.
9. Actual equivalency. The 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. A skilled vocation. Lockdown taught many parents that the life of a teacher was a whole lot tougher than they imagined and not the job they remembered when they were at school.