People often give out about teachers’ working hours. We’ve heard it all – half days and long holidays, blah blah blah. Everyone that is a teacher or loves a teacher knows that the hours we have with the children tell about half the story.
There’s not a lot of point in me talking about all the extra stuff teachers do outside of work because the people who know it, already know it and the people who don’t, don’t care. However, to fix this problem, I would suggest that teachers do get a contract of expected hours per week and get paid for them.
While contact time is set at 25 hours per week, the bear minimum a teacher will spend in work is 29 hours and 20 minutes per week. It is rare to find a teacher that will do that. Most teachers will work a minimum of 40 minutes before work, preparing their classrooms for the day and then roughly 12 hours per week on planning and preparation – roughly an extra 15 and a half hours, making up more than a 42 hours week.
Teachers are only paid for the contact time. This contact time is intense – it’s probably the equivalent of an actor being on stage for over 5 hours, without the benefit of the audience wishing to be there. It’s possibly the equivalent expectation of asking a doctor to have 30 of her patients in her surgery all with different ailments and expecting her to give each one her undivided attention at the same time. However, I know much of the population don’t believe this but there’s a reason why teachers have very strong bladders!
While I think it’s unrealistic to expect extra payment for the non-contact time, it should be recognised and limited to a certain number of hours per week. This upper limit might be the equivalent of a 40 hour week over a year (with the same average holiday time as your average worker.)
One might be surprised to learn that this wouldn’t be a huge number of hours per week.
When one includes parent teacher meetings, training outside school time, taking part in school community events (such as winter concerts, fundraising for the school, religious services, etc.) it doesn’t take too much time to add those up.
Also, given that teachers can’t choose their working hours, even if they are available to work, giving them a contract that allows them only to be available for work for up to 45 hours per week then ensuring the time off during the school holidays is reasonable. However, if a teacher does work during the holidays (and they do) this must be taken into account. Anything over this should be paid in overtime.
Given that no one is going to offer teachers any overtime work any time soon, a maximum 45 hour week in return seems reasonable. This doesn’t mean that the teacher must work for 45 hours per week on the school premises. The time can be used wherever is appropriate.
Having said all this, most teachers work well in excess of 45 hours a week. At least having a contract would ensure we didn’t work any more than that.