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To decide myslef how to spend my lunch break

(174 Posts)
OpenMe Mon 11-Jan-16 19:11:25

I'm a school business manager in a small school which means I do the finance (everything from orders to the budget), personnel, payroll, health and safety, premises, most of the admin, as well as manning the front desk and the telephones. It's a wonderfully varied role but it does mean that people always want something from me and my working life is full of interruptions and chaos.

I started in September and am contracted for 7.5 hours a day plus a 30 min unpaid lunchbreak.

I've had two probationary reviews which have gone very well but each time the HT has "suggested" that it would be nice if I spent my break in the staffroom, so the staff can get to know me. I don't think I'm particularly unsociable, but if I go in the staff room everyone takes the opportunity to tell me what they need from me, what they're waiting for, what they forgot to tell me about that is now urgent etc etc.

It's also really noisy. It's a lovely school and the staff are all very friendly, but the noise of them chatting at lunchtime is horrendous grin

Anyway, my preferred way to spend my 30 mins is reading, running out to the shops or (best) just going for a walk. Just 20 minutes of quiet away from the chaos.

I understand where the head's coming from but I also like (need?) my break. AIBU to ignore her or only go in there when it's raining occasionally?

DisappointedOne Mon 11-Jan-16 19:12:46


ImperialBlether Mon 11-Jan-16 19:14:09

Can you go into the staffroom for morning and afternoon break?

OpenMe Mon 11-Jan-16 19:15:12

There's only one break in the mornings, most of the staff aren't in the staff room then and I don't get a morning break.

RudeElf Mon 11-Jan-16 19:15:41

Definitely not unreasonable! I couldnt cope with the staff room you describe on my break. I think you need that headspace. Stick to your guns.

Flumplet Mon 11-Jan-16 19:16:21

Yanbu - that wouldn't be a break really would it!!

Meow75 Mon 11-Jan-16 19:17:04

YANBU! Give in to this, what next? Taking your lunch at your desk in case of an emergency that only you can deal with

AnnaMarlowe Mon 11-Jan-16 19:17:23

YANBU. For the sake of good relations with my boss I'd make sure I was visible in the staff room at least once a week or so though.

Why not pick a Friday when people are less likely to be demanding things?

Iwanttokillthem Mon 11-Jan-16 19:19:11

Its a great opportunity for you and the rest of the staff to get to know each other out of your office. I think it makes for a much better working relationship in school if the office staff mixes socially with the teaching and support staff. The stories you hear!

Do you get a morning or afternoon break? Could you spend one of them in the staffroom? Or maybe just pop in one lunchtime a week to keep up with people?

You just need to knock back anyone who asks you for something during your break. Once its quite clear you wont discuss work they will leave you alone to just chat or listen to the gossip.

WickedWax Mon 11-Jan-16 19:19:14

YANBU but I'd make a point of going in there one day a week. I think a Friday as Anna suggested would be ideal.

RoseWithoutAThorn Mon 11-Jan-16 19:19:24

My school has 4 admin. They all take their lunch breaks after the teachers otherwise they're asked about various things. Is this maybe an option? I'd never expect anyone to sit in the staff room I never do as I can't be arsed with the politics and I'm the Head

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 11-Jan-16 19:19:34

The clue is in the word, 'unpaid'. Your time, not theirs. Could you suggest spending 1/2 hour of your contracted hours in the staff room, then take your lunch earlier or later?

grumpysquash2 Mon 11-Jan-16 19:19:46

Agree with Anna - if your boss has "suggested" this twice, it would be good form to do it sometimes at least (even if you don't want to).
You could even say that you like walking and offer an open invite for people to join you (they probably won't, or at least not after once or twice) but it would seem friendly and that you're integrated with the staff.

OpenMe Mon 11-Jan-16 19:26:11

TBF to the head Rose, she does do it herself and I have to say the atmosphere between the staff is by far the best of any school I've ever been in. No divide between teaching, LSAa, Mid-days or office staff. It's an exceptionally happy place.

AnnaMarlowe Mon 11-Jan-16 19:28:24

MesTerryPratchett I'd suggest that the key word in the OP was probationary.

The Head has mentioned this twice - she's not asking really.

Look at it this way, she's trying to ensure that you are integrated into the body of the staff - this is a good thing for you as well as the school. You have a key role, it's important everyone knows you.

You won't have to do it forever, just for a while until everyone gets to know you.

mintoil Mon 11-Jan-16 19:30:06

I would do it maybe once a week, on the same day each week (Friday when everyone is happy!)

Minions Mon 11-Jan-16 19:30:36

I feel much less guilty taking a lunch break on my own after finding out introverts like me need alone time to recharge. I'm very sociable at work and enjoy being with my colleagues but sometimes I feel like I'd burst if I didn't get a few minutes to myself! I'd go to the staffroom sometimes and other times have time to myself.

JakeBallardswife Mon 11-Jan-16 19:31:00

I'd take the hint and go into the staff room. You could always pop in for 15 minutes of your lunchtime and still go out one lunchtime a week. It'll be easier if everyone gets to know you and will in the end facilitate the running of your job role.

lorelei9 Mon 11-Jan-16 19:35:25

Oh that's annoying
Id be saying that it's effectively work so you should be allowed to adjust your day so you can still get your 30 mins break, you need quiet to put your brain back in

I know that my boss's boss would rather I hung out with the team at lunch but to me it's just work, plus I like to work through and go home early and I said that at interview

My compromise is spending about one lunchtime per month with them. They can't say I "never" do it. But I also have a nice boss so I don't have to say explicitly "I'm still leaving at the same time because to me this is work". But she knows that's how I see it.

OnlyLovers Mon 11-Jan-16 19:36:09

YANBU to want your lunch break to yourself. Your job sounds very full-on!

I do a similar job and understand a bit of where you're coming from, in that my colleagues are prone to materialising at inconvenient/inappropriate moments (like when I'm on my way to or from the loohmm or to my desk, coat still on, bag on shoulder, clearly NOT yet in work mode or with my computer or any notes or anything) and asking very specific, not especially urgent questions that I just obviously can't answer at that moment.

BUT I hear what the HT is saying about the other staff getting to know you, and if you're still on your probationary period maybe it's worth making the effort.

I'd suggest showing your face in the staffroom a couple of days a week and joining in general social chat, but if anyone asks or tells you anything work-related, say pleasantly something like 'Could you come and find me/email me/whatever later? I can deal with it better when I'm at my desk/have the database up/etc.'

I do this with my colleagues, with some success.

Gwenhwyfar Mon 11-Jan-16 19:40:21

Can you say that you'll go to the staff room when the teachers have their break, but that it would be on work time, and you'll take your break later.
I don't think it's fair to compare with the head teacher. She's the boss and his role is obviously different, he shouldn't demand the same of others.

Gattabianca Mon 11-Jan-16 19:41:54

I sympathise because I hate having lunch in the staff room.
YANBU but if you want to stay in the school you really need to just do it, maybe not every day but at least a couple times a week.

MrsUltra Mon 11-Jan-16 19:42:17

and I'm the Head grin

BackforGood Mon 11-Jan-16 19:44:05

I agree with AnnaMarlowe - the HT has mentioned it to you twice. I'd take the hint if I were you, or at least compromise an go in twice a week or something.
It's unusual in a school for the office staff to get a break whilst it's the school lunchtime IME, as that's the only time teaching staff can get to the office, so go with the flow for a bit until you get to know everybody.

RatherBeRiding Mon 11-Jan-16 19:46:50

YANBU at all. This is unpaid time. What you do with it is no-one's business . Will it make you better at your job? Do the rest of the staff not know who you are, what you do, where to find you? Of course not.

I would be tempted to ask, next time this is "suggested", whether I could spend time in the staff room getting to know people during my paid hours, as I would appreciate a break to do my own thing during my - you know - break.

I can't see how it would affect relations with your boss. It is really cheeky trying to pressure you into spending your unpaid break in a way that she sees fit. The only thing that your boss can expect of you is that you do your job.

However, if you don't feel brave enough to blithely ignore the heavy hints, then maybe spend the last 5-10 minutes of your break in the staffroom once a week. If people start pestering you on work-related stuff you can legitimately say you will be back at your desk in 5 minutes if they would like to come talk to you about it then.

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