Academic common room
Alaimo · 03/01/2022 15:34
I currently work abroad, but have a job offer in the UK. I was just wondering how (im)possible it is to get time off at half-term for lecturers/professors in the UK, considering that it often falls in the middle of the teaching term? Is it something that might be possible depending on teaching load & administrative responsibilities, or is it a 'definitely not, don't even ask'-thing?
SarahAndQuack · 03/01/2022 18:50
I am answering because I didn't want you to go unanswered - but others likely know more! I think usually it would depend on what kind and amount of time off you wanted. My experience at two universities was that it was fairly easy to get quite a lot of time off during half terms, but there would be some fixed points (lectures in my case!) that were absolutely non-negotiable. I don't think anyone would have minded being asked if the schedule could be changed, but I also don't think it would have been changed. So if you could cope with, say, 4 or so hours in the week that couldn't be moved, you might be fine.
I have also come across a university (I interviewed but didn't get a job there) where they were trialling a policy where all faculty were required to work from campus 9-5 most of the time. I don't know what's happened with this during covid! But that would be a very different situation.
historyrocks · 03/01/2022 19:32
I’m in the Humanities so might be differnt for other disciplines. My uni used to have reading the week during the October holidays so could take a week off without problem, but term dates have changed this year so don’t coincide.
So long as my work, meetings etc (esp teaching) are covered, I could take some time off. I don’t call it annual leave as I’m still doing my workload, just shuffling it around. But no way could I ask for a week off and disappear. The only way to not turn up and teach/reschedule teaching is if you’re very sick.
SarahAndQuack · 03/01/2022 19:41
Oh, sorry, yes, as @historyrocks says, you couldn't just take leave, it would be about juggling things. But that's often doable.
ghislaine · 03/01/2022 21:55
Yes, I think any request to move teaching wouldn’t be met favourably but if you can pre-arrange to have your teaching concentrated in a couple of days a week then you could get some time with your children. But the whole week off I think would be met with incredulity.
Alaimo · 04/01/2022 08:17
Thanks all, this is really helpful! DH's family and my family live in different countries, and we have become used to taking a full week off during one of the half-terms (usually February, sometimes October) to visit family abroad, but it sounds like we'll have to adjust :).
reshetima · 05/01/2022 19:19
It'll depend on the nature of your teaching, and how much autonomy your head of department gives your course. When my DC was younger it was quite easy to arrange Reading week to coincide with February half term, and colleagues with older children would cover other stuff. I happily reciprocate nowadays they're older
LaChanticleer · 05/01/2022 22:47
On the one hand, academics have a lot of flexibility, but when it comes to the teaching term, there’s very little. The timetable is the timetable. And term time is pretty full on for a lot of other things. I doubt anyone in my department- which is nurturing and as family-friendly as it’s possible to be in a highflying and over stretched unit - would even think of taking annual leave for a school half term. Even in a reading week for students, we staff have a lot of other stuff we do then. Anyone just buggering off on vacation during reading week would be quickly resented.
Academics teach in a fairly tightly timetabled 24 weeks of the year. The rest of the time, bar our statutory 4 weeks annual leave, we’re still working pretty flat out, but can arrange things around other responsibilities. That’s not a bad bargain!
But part of that deal is basically no annual leave during teaching terms. I find it difficult when admin staff take leave during a teaching term - there’s always so much going on during a teaching term.
coogee · 05/01/2022 22:56
But part of that deal is basically no annual leave during teaching terms.
That is the situation at my institution for those involved predominantly in undergraduate teaching. For those predominantly involved in postgraduate teaching, the situation is more flexible as there are no “terms” as such.
allthatIcando · 07/01/2022 22:21
I have had little difficulty in organising my teaching so that I can take half term as annual leave. I am in a senior position which helps but there is a lot of flexibility in my institution. The only thing is we are doing next year's (autum 2022) timetable now so once these are set there is less flexibility - so it might not seem like there is much to you for the first year
LaChanticleer · 08/01/2022 10:08
It is possible to work around one's timetable etc, especially if a university reading week coincides wit a school half-term, but an academic's life isn't just undergrad & postgrad teaching. We often use reading week to have the longer strategy meetings etc that we can't schedule within a crowded teaching timetable.
OP I think you'll have to think about the post as not allowing annual leave during term time as the baseline, and anything you can arrange will be a bonus. It's likely you can arrange something, but don't count on it.
But really, we have such flexible timetables generally, that being held to inflexibility for maybe 24 weeks out of 48 working weeks is not a hard thing.
parietal · 10/01/2022 22:20
my university has reading week which normally coincides with half term, so I've always been able to take 2-3 days off in that week. not normally the whole week, but I probably could if I really wanted to.
Alaimo · 14/01/2022 12:50
I am genuinely thankful for all the responses. I didn't want to go into a new job and possibly make a massive faux pas by asking for AL in the middle of term time, so it has been really helpful to get a sense of what's common. As a pp said, for now I'll proceed on the assumption that half term leave won't be an option, and if it turns out that it might be possible to get a few days off, then that would be a bonus.
I think the next year(s) will just require some adjustment in our family. My DH and I have both been working as researchers and I'm struggling to think of a job that would have greater flexibility than what we have had in recent years. I'm now moving into a lectureship and DH will most likely take up a teaching-only post, so we're just trying to get a sense of how this might change the ways in which we've organised our family's life in recent years.
LaChanticleer · 19/01/2022 14:04
DH will most likely take up a teaching-only post
That will be key - annual leave in term time for someone-in a teaching only role would be tricky. In my department, I'd see them as taking the mick, frankly.
worstofbothworlds · 31/01/2022 11:46
I have never been able to take the whole week off to go on holiday with my DCs but I've shifted a lecture into half term (on purpose - the DCs had a whole day of care that day) and out of half term (holiday care is now really poor in our area partly due to COVID and staff shortages).
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