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Iceni Magazine | September 25, 2020

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Teachers: How Much Holiday Do They Get?

Teachers: How Much Holiday Do They Get?

I have been teaching in primary schools for over ten years now and a comment which never fails to anger me is, “Teachers get so much holiday!” 

So, why does that comment annoy me so much? I’m certain that there are some teachers who are happy to spend their “holidays” lazing around at home or forgetting about schoolwork for thirteen weeks, but I have yet to meet such a teacher in the state primary sector. 

What could teachers possibly do without the children being at school?

As it happens, quite a lot! Classroom furniture needs reorganising; resources washing and drying; display boards backing; new peg labels hanging; drawer labels printing, laminating, cutting and sticking. Plans can be written and we can meet with our year group partners. There are so many jobs that just can’t get done when pupils are present.

But what about if you can’t get into school? Not all schools are open during the holidays! 

I am a firm believer in constantly seeking new ways to engage the children. Continued professional development is vital to ensure that pedagogy doesn’t become stale and inefficient. I spend a large part of my holidays investigating new ideas for behaviour management or ways to best support the new child joining my class who has developmental delay and doesn’t communicate with anyone except his mother. Twitter, Pinterest and teaching groups on Facebook are wonderful things. I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel, so seek opinions of other likeminded professionals and lesson suggestions from others in similar settings too. Additionally, many courses are offered via distance learning linked to special educational needs. The budget cuts over the last six years mean that courses aren’t as open to teachers as they were, so I sought my own. 

In the past, I’ve spent time sourcing new things for the classroom: pencil pots; photo frames; curtains to cover the hideous cupboard; logs for the outdoor area: basically a never ending list of non-essentials, which do, however, improve the learning environment. 

Anything else to add?

I realise that I am not forced to do any of this work during the holidays. Teachers, depending on the number of days they work, are expected to work a certain number of hours throughout the year – mostly teaching, but some of the time includes staff meetings, parents’ evening and INSET (training) days/twilight sessions. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If I can use my holiday time efficiently, then I know I can make the best use of my time (that’s the idea anyway!) during the academic year. I’m still seeking that work-life balance though.

Please don’t assume that teachers work 9-3 each day and have very long holidays. It’s not the case and I hope my explanation of what I do (I’m not necessarily representative of the whole of the primary sector!) has opened some eyes.

Anonymous teacher

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