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Part-time teaching: the hidden workload scandal

(66 Posts)
noblegiraffe Fri 28-Oct-16 14:37:41

A really interesting blog here that I'd not really considered before, despite being a part time teacher (just over 0.6)

We see all the figures about how half of teachers leave within 5 years (the lesser figure quoted is those who start teaching and doesn't include those who drop out of training, I think), but nothing is ever mentioned about the huge numbers of teachers who have to go part time just to keep their heads above water.

I went part time after my first maternity leave. My second child will be starting school next year and people have started asking whether I'll be going back full time. The honest answer is that I can't imagine ever going back full time. And the kicker is that my school doesn't allow part timers to have TLRs which means that my career will effectively stall at the top of the upper pay scale.

PotteringAlong Fri 28-Oct-16 14:44:40

Interesting read. I'm the same, but I went to 0.6 after my second maternity leave having valiantly tried to make it work. The reality was though with DH also a teacher that we couldn't both do it. My school also doesn't allow part timers to have a TLR so I gave up all (extra) responsibility at that point.

I am about to go on maternity leave again but I don't imagine I will teach full time again for a very long time.

padkin Fri 28-Oct-16 19:26:18

It rang many bells for me.

After children I'd been working 0.8 (Primary class teacher job share). I specifically asked for 0.8 as I needed a full day working at home to get even a semblance of time at the weekend. This worked well for a while but gradually the workload increased (now 0.8 class teacher, but additional responsibilities that became expected on UPS salary - NQT mentor, leading INSET, phase leader etc) and even with working my day "off" at home 9-6, work started encroaching more and more into weekends. Add a partner who worked away from home for weeks at a time, and two early teens who both needed my time and energy during weekday evenings, and I eventually caved. I simply didn't have enough time, even on 0.8. I resigned, and took a TA role as a hiatus while I got my children and homelife sorted out.

I'm now back teaching again, but 0.6.
I don't think I could do more and parent in the way I want i.e. be even vaguely available in the evenings and weekends for help with homework, friendships, clubs, normal teenage angsts. I do know that many people do manage to teach full time and be good parents, and I'm full of admiration for them, but I couldn't do it. If you don't have really solid back-up support (partner, family etc) it's very very hard during term time.

wasninah Fri 28-Oct-16 22:53:57

I agree, padkin. I'm 0.6 but because my school can't/won't recruit I've been on full time hours for ages. I'm giving in my notice on Monday and taking it from there. Hope I manage to come back again, as you did. Good to hear your story.

Haggisfish Fri 28-Oct-16 22:56:03

I'm 0.8 with a tlr. Similarly could not contemplate full time unless I had a lot more tlr!

thatsn0tmyname Fri 28-Oct-16 23:06:48

I work two days (secondary) and am constantly struggling to get my job into the box where it belongs but it keeps bursting out ( mentoring students, year 11 intervention sessions, sixth form catch up classes etc). I am contemplating three days from next Sept as my children are 5 and 3 and might go up to 4 days when they reach secondary. I have no TLR- I don't want one. To quote Drake from the film Aliens "they ain't paying us enough for this, man".

Munstermonchgirl Sat 29-Oct-16 08:48:41

Noblegiraffe- this is something I've mentioned on MN a number of times, on various threads, the most recent one being the AIBU thread about whether part time working is a necessity. Someome mentioned on there about various professions (teaching included) where huge numbers work p/t because they feel the workload is too great to manage f/t. Im a secondary teacher and
see it a lot with colleagues of mine- always the women- who never return to f/t after having children. TBH I think it's scandalous- I see them taking home part time salaries, their pensions are severely depleted (and let's face it, the pension should be one of the better points of teaching) and they've kissed goodbye to career progression. YET they invariably spend their days off doing prep and marking!

For me, the best thing I ever did was to step back up to f/t from 3 days when my youngest child turned 4 and started school. Yes it was tough, but I think if I'd ever meet experienced the 'perk' of remaining p/t and having days at home once all my children were in school, I would never have got my career back together. My youngest is now 20- so I've had a long time to progress and am now a head of faculty. I am very strict about limiting the amount of work I do at home. Experience is helpful here- in the early days of teaching I did far more. I resolved several years ago not to be a martyr to the job because that does no one any good- definitely not the pupils as there's the risk of good teachers burning out. But as I say, it shocks me that I have colleagues on p/t salaries, who end up in effect doing a f/t job.

When your kids are really small I can see the benefits of being p/t as it's nice to spend more time at home (hence my dropping to 3 days at this point in my life) but personally I found the best solution was to step back up to f/t once the kids were in school. I think p/t teaching is often a mug's game... all the pressure without the rewards.

thatone Sat 29-Oct-16 09:11:27

I have gone down to PT recently and am loving having that bit of time to myself. The reduced salary and pension issues are a pain but for now I feel that as I love teaching but FT is oppressive, this is the only workable solution.

CaptainBrickbeard Sat 29-Oct-16 09:19:22

For me, I won't go full time while my kids are in primary because there is no flexibility and I would never be able to see my children's teachers/assemblies/plays etc. DH isn't a teacher so can book annual leave and move shifts around to keep regular contact with school- I need that one day a week to do the school run and keep in touch with my children's school lives. My mum was a full time teacher and could never attend a single event or pick me up from school, not once. For me that's a bigger issue than workload.

Munstermonchgirl Sat 29-Oct-16 09:51:45

If p/t works for you that's fine... but the OP and the blog she linked to were about the huge downsides to teachers who remain p/t permanently as a way of coping with excessive work loads. They are losing out massively as they are forgoing a decent pension and career progression, yet frequently aren't 'gaining' any advantage of time off because they spend a large part of their days off doing prep and marking.

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Oct-16 10:56:14

I don't even get days off, just a patchwork timetable. Next year when DD is in school I am looking forward to finishing at 1 then instead of rushing off to pick her up just staying at school and working so I don't have to take it home. I really want my evenings back so there's no chance I'd consider full time, I don't feel like I have a life in term time at the moment. But that would exactly be working full time on part time wages wouldn't it?

Another reason putting me off full time is how absolutely exhausted I am on days where I teach the full 5 hours. I linked to a talk on another thread by Laura McInerney where she points out that we don't expect any other performers to do 5 hours straight, theatre actors, orchestras and so on. It's pretty brutal.

UncontrolledImmigrant Sat 29-Oct-16 11:03:51

It's easier when your children are older - mine are in KS2 and I am full time, have been for 3 years now.

You have to be comfortable with setting limits and prioritising - I am never going to be the mother who hand bakes 30 dozen expertly frosted cupcakes for the bake sale. I am also never going to be the teacher who stays up until midnight planning The Perfect Lesson©

I'm okay with both 😄

UncontrolledImmigrant Sat 29-Oct-16 11:05:53

That is an excellent point about the pension - I was part time (.6 for 2 years, .8 for anothe 2 years) for a while, and I do worry about how this will affect me later down the line.

I think you can top up your pension to cover those missing contributions though?

Munstermonchgirl Sat 29-Oct-16 11:27:18

Noblegiraffe- you've taken the words right out of my mouth! It's the actual teaching - performing- which is the most tiring aspect. And you also need to factor in that in teaching you don't always have a willing audience who are there by choice. Neither do other performers have to adapt their performance to take into account the individual needs of their audience members!

I haven't really got any simple answers. I often think I could so easily be like my p/t colleagues... TBH when my youngest child turned 4 I was only 'half looking' for full time hours. If nothing had cropped up and I'd spent a year staying on 3 days with my children all at school, I suspect I would have got very used to having those 2 extra days at home, and 16 years down the line I could be just like my colleagues who get p/t wages and spend a lot of their time off thinking about work or doing prep. Coincidentally a full time post at a neighbouring school came up just as my youngest child
Started reception, and I got it. It was a mainscale post so not a promotion BUT it was the pathway back to working my way up to head of faculty. Of course, HOF has its own pressures but I'm on a reduced teaching timetable, and as you rightly say, it's the relentless nature of 5 hours teaching back to back lessons which is the most grueling part of the job.

So with me it came down to chance to an extent that the right job came up at the right time. Habit plays a big part in most people's lives and i think if I'd stayed on p/t hours for even just another year, id have started to believe that I couldn't cope with full time.

Munstermonchgirl Sat 29-Oct-16 11:33:37

Ps uncontrolled immigrant- yes you can pay AVCs to top up a pension, but obviously this is additional to what you're already paying in. My contributions to my teaching pension is well over 10% already (check yours- it's linked to your salary) so it's not always easy to find the extra cash, but definitely worth considering if you've lost out through part time. I only did p/t (3 days) for around 5 years, and have been full time for over 20 altogether but even those few years p/t have knocked a fair bit off my final pension. I'm not paying AVCs at the moment as my pension looks healthy enough,dh will have a full teaching pension and our mortgage ends shortly so we'll be ok, but you're absolutely right to check it out

HandbagCrab Sat 29-Oct-16 11:49:35

I don't see how I could do 70 hour weeks of a full timer, see my family and have some semblance of a life. We're made to work harder not smarter and now everything is monitored it's impossible to cut corners without it effecting how your performance is judged.

The pension's been decimated anyway, along with pay and progression. There's lots of other jobs that will pay you the 3 day 20k for full time hours. I used to love teaching.

Munstermonchgirl Sat 29-Oct-16 12:10:50

Handbag- sadly, I would never go into teaching if I was starting out now; the workload is huge, specially when you start out, and the pension, which historically was one of the best gold plated ones around, has been changed to not be nearly so attractive.

I suppose I tend to focus on colleagues who are my peer group (50 years +) because it's here that the part timers have really suffered because they could have had great pensions but have sacrificed them for the sake of staying part time, but then end up working full time hours. It's scandalous really. And as I say, I could so easily have fallen into that trap myself.

When I draw my teaching pension I may well decide to do a bit of part time work to give my week some structure... sadly it won't be teaching for the precise reasons above. No wonder the profession is in crisis.

HandbagCrab Sat 29-Oct-16 12:55:37

I think there's about 4 teachers left in my 1500 pupil school that are in their 50s. I'm glad there's some of you somewhere smile

MistresssIggi Sat 29-Oct-16 13:15:48

It's not essential to spend your days off doing school work though. You can spend them baking for the bake sale, running, watching Jeremy Kyle or whatever you want. I think if you end up working on your days off you would probably work at the weekends if you were full time. We all need to be finding ways to challenge workload for pt and ft staff.

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Oct-16 13:35:11

If you don't work at the weekend then when do you do your marking/preparation for Monday?

MistresssIggi Sat 29-Oct-16 15:47:07

I prepare everything before I leave work on my last working day. Sometimes (exam time, reports, something big coming up) I need to take stuff away. I work about 1 1/2 before or after school each working day, and may do an hour or two in the evenings on the days I'm employed. I work well beyond my contracted part time hours, but I'm not going to give them blood not any more

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Oct-16 15:58:32

Ah see I have to scrape into work at 8:30 and dash off at the end of the day because of childcare arrangements that means I have to take far more work home. It feels far more intrusive on my homelife even though I'm probably doing similar hours.

MistresssIggi Sat 29-Oct-16 16:10:57

I fortunately could set up childcare so that dh does half of it, which certainly helps. I saw that you have an in-and-out timetable which won't be easy it all, I have a more straightforward three day tt. I do always feel there's something else I should be doing - but my salary is much less so it is only right by workload is smaller too!

Munstermonchgirl Sat 29-Oct-16 16:24:23

Noble- I get into work for 7.30am and leave at 5/5.30, rarely take a lunch break BUT rarely take work home.
I agree it's harder when the kids are younger. Even though I had to pay full days at nursery, so could have left them there til 6pm, I preferred to pick them up earlier and spend time with them and then did school work after they were in bed. It's certainly easier now they're grown up, because getting prep and marking actually done in school makes for a better demarcation between home and school life.

As I say, I only did p/t when my kids were pre schoolers, so I always had my children at home with me on my days off, so never fell into the trap of using non working days for prep. I do think that would have happened to me if I'd remained part time though- it just seems inevitable when I look around at colleagues. They tell me that even if they aren't actually doing school work they are thinking about it- which can be as much of a problem!

I think overall as a full timer you just learn to stop more readily. I have learned to be incredibly strict with myself about it... teaching is such an open ended entity that it would be quite possible to do 70 hours plus a week and still feel you could do more.

In many ways I wonder whether the 'solution' is for fewer people (well, let's be honest, women) to accept part time hours, and remain full time but put tight limits on what they're prepared to do.

Forgetmenotblue Sun 30-Oct-16 13:49:04

I'm pt (0.6) after years and years of FT. I'm feeling that this is unmanageable too, now. I only get .6- worth of PPA time but the planning workload is ridiculous. (School is RI and awaiting ofsted).

Feeling v anxious about going back tomorrow. Wish I could find something else.

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