A longer working week?

One likely implication of longer school opening hours (if no additional funding is provided) is increased working hours for no extra pay. The likely options for staffing longer school opening hours with additional funding would be either employing and deploying more teachers on shifts, or increasing the teachers’ working week (and their pay accordingly).

Seems simple enough:

 – simply attract applicants for part-time working for the new, extra hour a day, say. Except some schools can’t fill the vacancies they have already, and all schools are struggling to secure Supply teachers in the tail-end of the pandemic. As for qualified teachers to deliver after school tuition – they’re as rare as the legendary hen’s teeth.

 – or simply require the current teachers to work more hours. Except I’m not sure they can do any more hours without dropping something they already do that makes them effective teachers already. I like to use the analogy of a full bookshelf; you can put a new book on the bookshelf, but only if one falls off at the other end.

My dad, a man who knew me since I was born, never quite understood what it was that meant I was at school so early and so late; I was doing the sorts of things my colleagues were doing this week. If we force teachers to teach more you can be sure we will lose those things. Teachers in my school were involved in the following ‘in their own time’ this week:

Taking 40 plus children to a mass vocal performance until 8:00 pm,

Attending Governor training with colleagues from our feeder school,

Running a football club, and several other clubs,

Providing one to one tuition,

Setting up the Easter Egg Competition and show, and welcoming parents into school,

Setting off on educational visits before school’s starting time,

Organising Class Photographs,

Liaison around transition activities with colleagues from other schools,

Checking on pupil welfare,

Contacting parents,

Blogging - the top reason people visit our school website,

Planning, preparing, assessing and reporting, emailing, communicating, …

Next week we’ll add on professional development, management meetings, parent information evening, more clubs and music activity, report writing, and accountability activity.

Schools would be very different places if they lost what employees give for free. Forcing all schools to open longer hours would run that risk, and I’m not convinced it’s worth it.

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