Teachers have to be wary if they want to contribute to education discussions, and they have to tread especially carefully in discussions about children taking holidays in term time. Exchanges have a habit of turning towards the long school holidays, and how teachers dare complain about families taking pupils out for term time holidays. Or about workload. Or pay. Or, indeed, about anything. But it always comes back to the holidays.
And since teachers get 11 weeks holiday (plus the bank holidays), it is difficult to challenge the view that it is a valuable perk.
So why does it bug me when we are attacked for our lazyness? Because of the belief that worth can be measured in hours and the explicit assumption that long holidays equates with less work than other workers. And, generally, this is not true.
Government workload research regularly finds teacher hours around 50 hours per week term-time, which amounts to around 2000 hours per year, not including work done during the holidays (and this is verified by independent studies, such as from PWC). This compares to the figure for ‘all professionals’ of 39 hours which, taking 44 weeks worked (6 weeks holiday plus public holidays), comes to 1700 hours. Or, to put it another way, the average prefessional would need to work for 50 weeks of 39 hours to match the 39 weeks of 50 hours for the average teacher.
So, as they say, do the math.
Edited 19 May 2010