`I didn't have time for the children'

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The Independent Online
TWO TERMS ago, 52-year-old Judith Hubmann left her full-time teaching job, worn down by a series of government initiatives and relentless press-ure from parents and school governors.

After several years in which her responsibilities piled up and she found herself working more than 50 hours a week, she was spending her holidays worrying over how she was going to cope.

So she resigned and sent a letter to David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, explaining her decision. Now she does supply teaching - and far fewer hours. She has no regrets."I earn less but I have a much better quality of life. I have my weekends back."

Matters came to a head, she said, halfway through last autumn term at the parents' evening for her class of five-year-olds. She realised that, for the first time in her career, she had been so swamped by bureaucracy that she did not know the children in her class.

"I wanted to be just a classroom teacher but now you have to take on more responsibilities. I tried to work a 50-hour week but it was impossible. I was there at 7.45am and never left before 5pm. Every week there were staff meetings and I ran recorder classes and a choir after school. I worked every Saturday or Sunday.

"If the Government mentioned something then the governors and head would be frightened that they had to keep up: it didn't matter whether it was a legal requirement or not.

"I was implementing the new literacy hour and introducing homework for five-year-olds at the same time as trying to get them to settle into school.

"I know we have long holidays but it doesn't make up for the fact that once you are going you are on a roundabout spinning."

Mrs Hubmann, a biology graduate who began teaching nearly 30 years ago, doubts whether the new helpline will make much difference. The problems are more fundamental than that, she says. Ministers have to tackle the issue of the growing burdens on teachers.

A Hard Day In The Life

A typical day for a primary teacher

8.00am: Arrives at school. Sets out books and worksheets, having spent at least four hours at the weekend planning teaching materials.

8.45am: Pupils and parents arrive. Teacher talks to parents and briefs classroom assistant on the day ahead.

9am: Children go to assembly. Teacher uses time for marking, lesson preparation and administration.

9.20am: Registration.

9.30am: Literacy hour begins.

10.50am: Break. Teacher prepares for next lesson and works with trainee teachers.

11.05am: Numeracy hour.

11.55am: Mind games and reading.

12.15pm: Lunch. Spent marking and meeting headteacher. Preparation and planning in history and science.

1.15pm: Lessons until school ends.

3.20pm: School ends. Marking, record keeping, planning and administration.

6pm onwards: Up to two hours' marking.