LETTER : Teachers work all hours

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Sir: Last week I worked over 55 hours and I spent five hours on Sunday working on a new scheme of work for mathematics. On Monday I arrived in school before 8.30am and left, after a governors' meeting, at 9.30pm. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report that UK primary teachers work longer than their colleagues in other countries - 950 hours per year and fourth highest in the OECD's list of 20 countries - seems to grossly underestimate my workload and that of my colleagues in primary schools ("Britain's teachers at top of pay league", 10 December).

The School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document of 1996, like its predecessors for many years, states that "a teacher shall be available to perform ... duties ... specified by the headteacher for 1,265 hours in any school year". It continues, "A teacher shall ... work such additional hours as may be needed to enable him to discharge effectively his professional duties, including, in particular, the marking of pupils' work, the writing of reports on pupils and the preparation of lessons, teaching material and teaching programmes".

For a headteacher the only reference to working hours is that "a headteacher shall be entitled to a break of reasonable length during the course of each school day". I can't remember the last uninterrupted lunchtime I had.


Headteacher, St Matthew's C E School

Westnewton, Cumbria