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2ndary teachers: how long are the hours, really?

(55 Posts)
SoftFroggie Tue 31-May-05 10:20:17

I am considering not returning to my current job at the end of my mat leave, and in a few years retraining - possibly as a 2ndary science (chemistry) teacher. The most off-putting thing is the frequent comments about how long the hours are. So what hours do you really work? How long is an average day during term-time? How many of these hours are 'flexible' and how many at fixed times? how many hours do you realistically do in the school-holidays? Is it flexible when you do these hours? How many weeks are term/time and how many holidays? How family-unfriendly is it, really?

Any chemistry teachers? I've a few specific questions, too.

Is it a completely mad idea? At the moment to do my 'nominally' 22.5hr/week job I spend about 30 hrs at work.

Ameriscot2005 Tue 31-May-05 10:41:04

I used to work as a science teacher and found the hours to be less than when I worked in industry.

I used to get into school at about 8am for an 8.50 start, and leave round 3.45 - 4pm (children left at 3.15pm). I had 3 or 4 hours on non-contact time out of 25, when I could get on with marking and planning, even if I got nabbed for "cover" (sitting in on classes where the teacher is absent). There is no flexibility in when you work, unfortunately. There are odd times when you have to work beyond the normal day - meetings maybe one hour after school every 2 or 3 weeks, parents' meetings (maybe 6 or 7 of these a year), open evenings, school play etc.

I never took marking home, but did keep the main text books in my briefcase. I found that science was a lot easier on marking than, say, English or history, because there's a lot less pupil reading to do, and you get good at finding the answers in their work.

Good technicians can make your life a lot easier as they are the ones who put your equipment together for lessons, and can help you decide what to do in your lessons if they are experienced.

sassy Tue 31-May-05 10:45:13

I'm now part-time - 2 days p/week and it is great. I don't have any extra responsibilities or attend any after school meetings, and I reckon a typcal week's work looks like this:
Teaching classes - 9 hours p/week
Non-contact (at school, but 'free') - 1 hour p/week
Prep/admin time at school (break, lunchtime etc)- 2 hours p/week
Prep/marking at home- 2-3 hours.

When I was full time it was :
Teaching - 21 hours
Non-contact - 2 hours
Cover periods - up to 2 hours
Prep/admin at school - 5 hours
Prep/marking - 5-7 hours usually, but MUCH more at certain times, e.g. exams, reports etc.

13 weeks hol a year, but you will have lots to do during them! At least one full 8 hour day p/week on hols is normal for me.

My subject is English, BTW, which is heavy on marking.Happymerryberries is science; she'll be able to give you more idea about prep etc.

Teaching is a great job, but you really do need a vocation IMO. Have you spent a day in a school to see what you make of it?

fisil Tue 31-May-05 10:48:18

In my first year I worked very long hours - 7:30 - 6 in school and then an hour off for dinner before working all evening. And Sunday afternoon and evening. However, I was childless and not living with dp, and ambitious. In my 2nd year I decided never to work at home apart from Sunday evenings, and largely stuck to it - which meant just 7:30 - 6 at school. When I had ds1 i changed my hours to 7:00 - 4:30, or 4 when I was pg. And that was as head of maths. I am now trying to return to work part time, but may consider full time with no management respomsibilties, as I reckon I could fit that into 8:00 - 4:00 and no work at home.

One problem though is the energy. You know the type of tiredness after being with your own children all day - well it's exactly the same after a day with someone else's children!

AuntyQuated Tue 31-May-05 10:48:22

sassy can i hijack this thraed?
i am a primary teacher and have just started working in a unit where there are more secondary children than primary!! aaggghh
could i possibly email you to pick your brains?? my addy is

AuntyQuated Tue 31-May-05 10:49:55

fisil? maths?
could i pick your brain too please?

sorry won't hijack anymore

sassy Tue 31-May-05 10:51:05

AuntyQ - course you can CAT me!

fisil Tue 31-May-05 11:48:29

Yes AQ - please CAT me.

Rarrie Tue 31-May-05 20:38:02

I think it depends on so many different things that its impossible to say.

I teach RE - so 30 kids for 1 hour a week = lots of marking!

But other factors that will sway it are:

*How much KS3 / GCSE or 'A' level you teach. To teach 'A' level well, does require a lot of hours to be put in. However, if you have lots of repeat KS3 classes, then you can often teach the same lesson which cuts down prep time.

* How good the resources are in the school. In my subject - they are often very poor, and without a National curriculum, there are never any which fully match our locally agreed syllabus - so I do spend hours making resources.

* How good you want to be - Sounds harsh, but I find often the best lessons take ages to prepare. I know I'd do so much better if I had more time - but I can't always do the all singing, all dancing lessons!

* The culture of the school - At my last school, the head considered it 'unprofessional' for teachers to expect a lunch break! There were 12 parent's evenings a year, 2 open evenings, House evenings, Award evenings, school discos to supervise, Saturday detentions etc etc (And this was a state school). I found I used to work between 60 and 80 hours a week there! My current school is more union based - only one meeting per week etc, and I find I only worked 50 hours or so a week - Its not surprising my Husband has banned me from ever working back at my previous school!!

I think teaching is one of those jobs that is never finished - there's always more than can be done - how much work there is, usually depends on when you're happy saying 'no'!

Having said that, I'm in a job I love, and the holidays are pretty fab!!


bayleaf Tue 31-May-05 20:43:37

I think the 'how long are the hours' is a very personal thing. For many years I worked ridiculous hours - litterally every evening much of the time and at least a day at the weekend - it was the only way I felt I could relaly feel I was doing a good job but to be fair I did it because I wanted to. IMO a lot of the decision of what is the bottom line depends on the subject and the actual school - you will get away with much less in some schools than others - but at the same time I couldn't do a 'minimal' amount and still get the same job satisfaction from it - I now job share head of dept role which is marvellous as it enables me to not work eveings and weekends - but I do work pretty much 4 solid days and am paid for 2.5. I also work approx 2 days of week of most holidays taking advantage of the childcare to get ahead with work that needs 'quality thinking'.
For me the wonderful thing about teaching is that I LOVE my job - and not mnay people can say that.

stitch Tue 31-May-05 20:43:39

completly mad woman yo uare.
it doesnt take over you r life. it becomes your life. there is no time to do anything other than do the job. think it breathe it. etc.
and to top it all off, your not paid worth a d)(*&.
dont do it.

Hulababy Tue 31-May-05 20:46:45

I am no longer teaching now, having left iat Easter

I was working PT (3 days a week), teaching ICT.

My school based hours were 8:25am to 3:20pm. Once a week I had an hour's meeting after work. In that time I had 2 x 50 minute non contact time, but I only ever got one of those at the most. At least one a week was taken over with covering absense staff, frequently both.

Over the year I had up to 10 parent's evenings (between 5pm and 7:30pm), plus 2 open evenings.

On top of this I had prep/planning and marking to do. This varied with each week - depending on whether coursework was due in, moderation needed doing, etc. But it would average at least 2 hours most evenings, plus weekends too.

Most schools do 39 weeks of term, and 13 weeks holiday. Easter holiday is normally taken up marking coursework - as deadlines are normally straight after. I worked in every school holiday.

As I say I have now left teaching and I have reclaimed my evenings and weekends. I am loving it

madrose Tue 31-May-05 21:14:56

Hya, I teach science and pscyhology A level. I'll be going back to work in Sept for the 3rd year - hopefully for four days a week. I decided to go back for 4 days - because I know how tired I got before I had DD. I found the first year the hardest and things got better in the second year, mainly cos I had taught things at least once and knew what worked or didn't work.

I also found that working for a department that is well organised, ie well written schemes of work, worksheets, good resources makes life a lot easier. (I once worked somewhere that had nothing - what a nightmare) also Sunday planning is a must - so that you have an idea of what is happening during the week, so if you have a bad night, you can wing it. Good tech - vital

Get the kids to mark each other's homework and tests, and try to get a sixth form tutor group, ok you'll have UCAS refs as well as form reports, but less grief than the younger years.

Keep a copy of all your resources at home, with text books (just in case) handy if you need to ring in a lesson if absent.

I don't know how its going to work out, but I hope to be home by 4pm most days (unless there's a meeting) and plan to spend just one full day working during the 13 weeks hols. and to keep home work to a minimum.

I love teaching, but the main reason I went into teaching, was to fit it around family life. Its not perfect, but when I was in finance - lots of hours at work and home, lots of stress and just 5 weeks holidays!!!!!!!!!

Good luck. If you want any resources just shout, but i'm just a biology teacher at GSCE, but teach general science at KS3 -

SoftFroggie Tue 31-May-05 21:43:27

Thanks - food for thought... not too bad: as I said - I currently am paid for 3 days and do the hours of 4, and am paid worse than teaching. I have to face very a*sey contractors and difficult clients on deeply unpleasant waste disposal sites. Fancy something different, and really enjpyed the undergrad lecturing I did a while back, so thought of teaching. Will think more - probably a 3 yr plan.

HMB: any comments from you?

Hulababy Tue 31-May-05 21:44:53

softfroggie - I would really recommend trying to get into a school to have a look round, and observe some lessons if you can. May give you an idea of what it is like in the classroom, and you can ask further questions to those teachers too.

pixiefish Tue 31-May-05 21:55:08

I teach english at the moment and am giving up this summer for a few years. I had gone back 2 days a week on a jobshare and for reasons beyond my control it's not worked out.

When I was full time these were my hours:
get in for 8 to start teaching at 8.45.
school finished at 3.20- stay till 5 or 6 depending on mark/prep load. Also had classroom displays etc to sort out plus extras that I used to do for literacy.
Friday night I used to leave on time and do no work at all saturday.
Sunday i used to work marking/preparing etc from about 11 till 4.30
Half terms I used to spend 2 days working either at home or in school. Xmas and easter hols used to fall just after the year 11 and year 10 exams so always had loads of marking- about 4 days.
Constantly updating workschemes and trying to improve.
1 after school meeting for an hour every week.
7 parents evenings a year- in school till 7.30.
1 open evening a year- in school till 7.30
School concerts, plays, - at least 2 a year- in school till 10 ish.
Extra curricular- theater visits/workshops- varied but always after school so whole evening gone.
Weekends away on outward bound courses (nothing to do with subject but as a staff we used to do these)
End of year reports used to take hours as well.
Basically I think that with teaching you get out what you put in. A well prepared lesson is easier to do than one on the hop. Also if you can't be bothered to mark school books then the kids lose interest as well. Extra curricular stuff shows you care about them as a person and you get a lot out of it.
Up until this year I thoroughly enjoyed teaching. I still love being witht he kids it's the other crap that got me down. Am leaving for a while to concentrate on dd and when she's a bit older I may go back... but then again I may not

SoftFroggie Tue 31-May-05 22:08:29

Yes: if I'm really interested I'll arrange to go in for a few days to shadow a teacher in the local 2ndary school. I won't manage to get on a PGCE for the next couple of years for various reasons, so I've plenty of time to consider, try out, etc.

swedishmum Tue 31-May-05 23:28:09

I loved teaching (as a secondary school HoD) until I had children. Suddenly I was less interested in putting in all those hours that made me so good at my job. I taught Music so extra-curricular activities went with the territory, cutting out the opportunity for doing my own work at lunchtime or before 4.15. I was still good at my job but not the dedicated individual I once was. My own children are far too important. I just didn't have enough to give to be a fab teacher and a fab parent, and the whole reason I didn't go into music performance was that I would never be Yehudi Menuhin..
If you're a perfectionist you need to be a lot more organised with your time than me. The teaching I've done since then (and I've retrained as a primary teacher) has given me some great highs, but it's not for me. I'm still fired with enthusiasm for education, but at the moment my children are the focus of my interest.

RTKangaMummy Tue 31-May-05 23:37:25

DH is a chemistry teacher

It is half term and he is working every evening for about 4 hours each night

So yes he does get holidays but he is working during them

If you want to ask him questions he can answer them I am sure

RTKangaMummy Tue 31-May-05 23:38:04

He is HoD

debs26 Tue 31-May-05 23:41:24

anyone do supply? am part way through my biology degree, thinking of going in for teaching but thought supply might be more flexible. is it worth it?

bayleaf Wed 01-Jun-05 12:02:32

Hmmmm - supply is 'easy money for what you do' i.e. in secondary you work 8.30-3.30 nothing outside those hours really- but you get very little job satisfaction and control can be a nightmare - I would only consider it in one or two school I knew were ok and where I could get to know the place and the routines etc.
On the other hand in primary it's maybe better - my mum did primary supply for many years ( again in half a dozen schools that she got to know well) and loved it.

Ameriscot2005 Wed 01-Jun-05 13:19:26

If you are on odd-day supply, then you aren't really teaching - just babysitting really. You give out the work that the regular teacher has left (which will be to do some quiet book work). If you are lucky to land some regular work (eg one day a week for a term to the same set of classes or to cover a long term sick leave or jury duty), then you can do some real teaching, which includes planning and assessment as well as the immediate classroom work.

You really need to have a teaching qualification to do supply, and once you have that, it's worth doing a year or two of full-time teaching to gain your stripes.

I've just signed up with a supply agency, btw. I would like to rtw part-time, but with asthmatic daughter did not feel that I could take on a regular job at this time. I only ever want to work 2-3 days a week while my kids are young.

Moomin Wed 01-Jun-05 13:27:23

I did consdier supply at one point but then I looked at what it was that made teaching so good on the good days. It boiled down to the relationships I had with pupils and feeling that I was doing a good job. IMO, you don't get that with supply. My least favourite lessons at school by far are the cover lessons, esp when I don't know the class very well. Like Ameriscot2005 says, it's just babysitting really. AT best you can get through the lesson with no real problems and maybe feel like you've helped one or two kids; at worst it can be a continuous battle. The school you choose is definitely an issue; some just leave supply teachers to get on with it - sink or swim. Others are much more supportive. The only supply I'd consider now is a school that I know the rep. of or know other teachers there, on a long-term basis, like a maternity or sickness leave.

AuntyQuated Wed 01-Jun-05 13:36:34

i work officially on a supply basis but really it is a short-term contract.

this suits some schools where budget is an issue. it suits me as i don't have to do the boring stuff.

i work for a support service and am currently based at a unit for EAL children.

this type of supply suits me perfectly; i see the same children, build up relationships with them and get to do some real teaching. i am paid on an hourly rate, as opposed to a day rate, so i start at 9.30 (that's the official start time but in reality i get there at about 9.05, after i have dropped my 2 off) and i finish at 3 (sometimes picking my 2 up and returning to school to finish off)

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