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Cleaning the ovens- who's job is it?

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by doodle_dt, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. It is a very difficult issue and one that I am trying to resolve for myself at the moment. I have been teaching 23 years and know all of the tricks of my trade as you can imagine to help my dept run smoothly, and like being busy so don't tend to sit down much during the day. Making a school fair in all respects is virtually impossible, but I think that from my point of view my HT does not realise the constraints of my working day. The support that I am offered is very different from that of the science teachers. Their technicians bring all of their experiments to their rooms, take them away again etc. I have asked our science staff if they regularly stand in the prep room cleaning test tubes etc break, lunchtime and after school and the answers is no. Would the science teachers carry out experiments with no technicians present within the dept....no!
    Is it the status of the subject historically ? House craft, home craft, domestic science, home-economics, food technology? Why are my working condiitons well below other member of staff who teach practical subjects?
    I teach four KS4 Catering groups. I have moved from delivering Food-tech to catering four years ago and I'm so pleased that I did. The SLT, HT, students, parents and wider community are too. I cook a lot more recipes, and the level of skill is higher.The use on the room and equipment is more. The results achieved are among the highest in the school. I only have a technician for 2.5hrs a day. As the school day is longer than this, when she is not here, I am the teacher and the technician and I don't feel that this is acceptable. I find it very hard to access breaks. One catering session finishes with a slight overrun, and then I'm straight into the other. With no technician I am unable to join the other in my dept with their morning coffee! It is tiring too.
    There is inequality within my own dept. I have 12 hrs pers week, which may well be reduced next year, while the resistant materials have a full time technician. My HOD said that I could have his technician for one morning a week as he admitted that there was a large imbalance, but after one morning workong in my room, the technician refused to enter my food room. This issue was never resolved.
    Some of my catering lessons are in the afternoon, and as my school is rural and the students are mainly bused in there is a real time pressure. The cleaners at my school only want to clean in my room and not do anything that is technician related, event though on a light night there may well be time in my 2hr cleaning slot for the rooms. Flexibility and a positive solution based approach is needed. We employ our own cleaners so this should be achievable.
    Too often I am late getting out for my morning duty, I struggle to make lunchtime meetings etc. Getting a loo break seems a real challenge in itself sometimes too!
    For me the issues are two fold. I don't have enough technician time and I therefore struggle to access breaks and use my free lessons effectively. I will have more whole school responsibilities from September and I'm struggling to think how I will find the time during the school day to communicate with the other staff that I need to liaise with. The level of technician support varies so much. I have come across schools where there is someone there all day, to depts where there is nobody. I don't feel that I should be made to feel grateful that I have 2-5hrs a day.
    I did the 3 star award this afternoon and the students made some wonderful food. I tasted everything which the students always enjoy. With the TA away the result was that the room required 45mins of my time before the cleaners came as I have no technician on a Friday and there is uproar if the cleaners do any technician work, so washing machine put on, two students washing up needed finishing, fridges on a Friday night to check/throw etc, washing up bottles sorted,remained of equipment put back in its home! Do you think that the science staff were doing the same in the science prep room? I have been advised to cook less often and cook much easier recipes for the catering groups, but I have able groups and achieve 95+% A*-C so don't want to achieving outstanding results.
    Rant over, now for a glass of wine!
  2. Many thanks thistledoo, you have given me some good advice. On Friday I missed saying goodbye to two colleagues as I knew that I had several jobs to do in my food room before my weekend would begin! My HT has said that he will investigate what provision other school food teachers receive. I have asked him to compare like with like in that we have two hour food lessons at.KS3 and have four Catering groups. The only school that I can think of near to me with the same set up has a food technician full time!
    I have been an AST for over ten years, and so have been into most schools in my county. The level of provision is very different. Recently a job came up in another school, and one of the first things that people asked me was if I knew how much food technician support was being offered! Potential candidates do consider this before applying as it does make a difference to the quality of your working day.
    Once again, thanks and I will be acting on some of your suggestions.
  3. Ah yes - I was once advised to 'choose easier recipes' and 'get them to start clearing up earlier' - by an English teacher. I spend plenty of time correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation but haven't yet advised the English department!

    With such a heavy load you must insist on more technical help. It's not a luxury and you shouldn't feel guilty for asking. They want the results ( as do you) so they must help you achieve this. I think you're right to wonder about the historical place of the subject in schools - for too long it was the Cinderella subject, not quite justified academically, and tolerated, rather than welcomed by some staff. To dispel the myth that it's just a bit of cooking and washing up, why not get your HT to come and spend some lesson time with you and you can show him /her the extent of the problem. There's nothing like a bit of practical experience, in my book!

    The trouble is that whilst you keep doing it all, they'll keep letting you. But why should you?
  4. I have been working for over 30 year teaching Home Economics and then FoodDT. I have never cleaned the ovens - each year we get in a company that will clean them for us. Of course there is a cost, but the school I have taught in have always thought it was moeny well spent. I also believe it lengthens the life of the cooker. (Try to get a discount on a bulk cleaning order - ie 12 for the price of 9)!

    The hob tops are wiped over every lesson by the pupils!

    Hope this helps.
  5. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    It's a deal then, staffgbb - it is time to start logging all the tasks and jobs that a food teacher does without a technician. I will remind my LM this week about a 'deep clean' for the food room and take note of all the work involved without a technician. I will keep you updated on my progress! I warn you, this will take time, as I have been at this problem for more years than I care to remember... and what is expected of any teacher is certainly very different from when I began!
  6. I was told that a lesson could not be outstanding if it was a focused task. Well if every lesson every student made something different I would be dead from exhaustion running around making sure all the dishes went home perfect because parents have paid good money. We give the students several opportunities like this when we run competitions and it is a nightmare getting the rooms cleared up. Catering is really great and we have tried to choose dishes that don't take so long to prepare and yet get them doing the skills they need for higher grade. Bit some students are very slow and need a lot of support. A problem with mixed ability grouping.
    One of the questions on an exam paper asked students to decide, true or false, if a cheap cut of meat made a tasy stew. They nearly all said no. We don't have time to cook a stew in school. I did with one group but only because I could leave them in the oven as the rooms weren't being used.
    Perhaps we should just put the uncompleted food in the cupboard at the end of the lesson and carry on the following lesson LOL
    We do not have any leverage because we are an expensive subject to run. I want to get an EHO in to talk to the students but Bursar is worrying they will inspect the kitchens. We would possibly lose Catering altogether. However it is proving impossible to get one into school. They always seem to be involved in court cases and too busy.
    I was asked to write everything (cleaning I did) down but this took so much of the time I needed to do other school work I got annoyed with it. Mainly I'm told we should get the students to clear up after them and if I don't it's because I am poor teacher because in management's previous school it wasn't a problem!
    It used to be that food teachers did not have tutor groups to give them more time in the morning to set dems etc.

  7. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    I remember the days when I didn't have tutor group so I could get my demonstration ingredients and equipment ready! Of course this problem all boils down to money. We also didn't go to assembly and students missed assembly to start their practical. It was the norm.
    Today though, we are expected to do all the paperwork and number crunching, preparation and assessment that was not as severe as it is at present... if SLT want a proper job doing, bearing in mind that food results are usually excellent they have to realise they cannot have it all ways. We may be an expensive subject but I have recently seen the budget for the other half of the DT area... they have a technician and the budget is three times that of food. It is a pain but we have to start logging all extra work/ time and if necessary, get union involved. I don't think going to a union rep will be necessary - present a good argument and show the extra tasks/ time involved, on paper and SLT will have to respond. What you put up with will go unnoticed. It may take time but I believe it will be worth it in the end... so that is where I am heading! I have started, got some response and will carry on!
  8. DATAstaff

    Are there any guidelines that protect us from having to do all this additional work? I too am late for meetings because of cleaning and break and lunchtimes are almost non existent, something our technician gets the luxury of everyday!
  9. A point picked up from a previous post, we too only have our technician for a few hours a day and I don't know how we're called expensive when the DT budget seems to be 3 times the size of food. I thought the idea of having a technician was to provide technical support so that we could continue to be teachers and not teachers with part time cleaning hours.
  10. Today got into work for 8.10am. It is our enrichment week so I'm cooking lots this week. . Put wash on, put wash in that was not tumbled correctly and had to be washed again, checked all cupboards and shifted around some equipment after busy session on Friday,, made up some D10 , got some trays out of ovens that had dried, washing up bottles needed topping up. I only have 12hrs tech support so have to save that until later in the week as its the end of term, so it's me at the mo!
    First session with local pudding maker starts at 9-15am. I have to stay in break time sorting things out. Session finishes slightly after the lunch bell and I clean up, sort trays out, put perishables away, help her pack things away......then before she goes the next lovely cup cake bakehouse people arrive for afternoon session. I see first guest to her car, then dash back to room. Return to food room via the loo. Its now 12.50pm and I get the equipment out, three Kenwoods, piping bags, etc for next session. Afternoon session starts and is fab. Students leave at 3.30pm having left their units in good state. Guests leave at 4pm. I then have food and equipment from busy session to sort out, trays that are soaking to scrub and dry off in ovens and more besides. No morning break, no lunch break and it took me 1hr to do my technician jobs for the day. 5 pm and off home! I know that if i leave any technician jobs for the cleaners to do there will be uproar.
    Although it is enrichment week in our school, the flavour of what I have described here is normal for me. As I have said before lots of staff in school work hard, but there comes a point where you know that you are not getting the technical support that you should be. This week I will contact the SLT in my school and plan to write to the governors. I also plan to keep a log of the technician jobs that I do each day. Thanks for sharing your experiences with me and for making me realise that I am not alone in my quest for adequate technician support.
  11. What are / should be the job spec of a food technician?
  12. Simon67

    Simon67 New commenter

    That sounds like a standard day for us as our part time technician left at Xmas and hasn't been replaced. It's either get the technicians stuff done and not fully prepare lessons, or fully prepare lessons and not have any tea towels/equipment not in the correct place, etc, etc...[
  13. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    Well folks, I spent the first week of the school holidays in school, emptying/ defrosting two 'fridges that had been left and clearing the food rooms so the cleaners could come in and 'deep clean' with steam. There was too much equipment left out... weighing scales, baking tins... too much to go into massive detail for any cleaning staff to make any headway. Took me three days with the help of the receptionist who asked to help because her workload was light. Very kind and very appreciated. (Box chocolates first day back I think.) I then checked all the other DT areas and to my amazement the DT technician/ teacher/ student area was left in a disgusting state. Empty cardboard boxes thrown on the floor. Sawdust on the benches and floor. Tools left out everywhere, dirty coffee mugs - it just looked as if it had been a chaotic day and someone was going to walk back in to sort it. There wasn't a clear path to walk anywhere. Wheelbarrow, metal bins added to the confusion. Large equipment hadn't been packed away, memory sticks for student use where laid down anywhere. The actual cleaners don't do this area but it should be left clear for site staff to access for maintenance if necessary. Surely this is unacceptable? I couldn't help myself... I collected up all the tools and put them into two boxes. I took all the PC software and locked it away. I squashed all the empty boxes... fifteen in all. And yes, I am in charge of the whole area, including budget, so as the rooms are left wide open I did worry about the equipment going missing... there are a variety of off-site maintenance workers that visit during the holidays. Does anyone think I am being unreasonable to expect staff to clear away properly at the end of term? It seems it is the DT Technicians job to ensure the area is tidy and managed.
  14. Chirality

    Chirality New commenter

    Speaking as a Science Technician , I don't see why tasks like cleaning ovens are classed as"technician" work. Maybe Scotland has a different system to you. Here there are classroom assistants who help in Art and Home Economics. Cleaning , shopping , filling , cutting etc.... No way would any of our councils pay grade 7 to a technician to clean ovens. That would be a waste of money.
    Im not trying to rattle anyones cage [​IMG] but feel that our profession struggles to get recognition as it is without being lumped in as dishwashers etc.. For the record , our pupils wash up after themselves. LOL they'd need to ...our school roll is 1000+ and there's only 2 of us! Some days I am up tp my elbows in suds doing my own glassware in the prep room.

    It's a shame the area was left in a mess but maybe your staff are term time only? I know I for one would walk out and leave everything at my derriere if we were forced to go term time , which year by year looks likely.

    If money was no object .......well we can dream eh?[​IMG]
  15. Chirality

    It's not a question of what a technician should do but more of what a teacher should not be doing. I don't know what you do in Science to be on a grade 7 but food technicians are usually on less and such tasks are a necessity of their job to aid the "practical" nature of the subject.
  16. Chirality

    Chirality New commenter

    [​IMG] We are woth every penny of our Grade 7 salary which incidentaly has been frozen for 3 years. The main point I was making was that it didnt sound like you needed an actual technician but I guess different local authorities have differnt idead and payscales(some of them appaling)
    I hope you get the assistance you need[​IMG]


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