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Do you wish for the return of longer lunch breaks and proper staffrooms?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by TES_Rosaline, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    One former head laments the gradual loss of lunch breaks and the safe space where teachers could head to the staffroom for some much-needed respite:

    ‘When I started teaching in 1978, there was a morning interval, an afternoon interval and at least an hour-long lunch break…Lunchtime, in particular, was beneficial to many young people and staff. It was time for extensive extracurricular activities, programmes of supported study and so on. These things still happen in schools, but they are either crammed into the shorter time or are add-ons outside school hours, requiring transport and additional costs. I worry about which pupils might have been disadvantaged by this move: the poorest, those who depend on school transport and – especially – those in rural and semi-rural areas.

    Staffrooms were a safe place to let off steam

    The loss of the staffroom can also be traced to this shortening of the day. Is there a correlation between this development and the increase in stress and poorer health and wellbeing among our teachers? Staffrooms are a very important feature of a school: a safe place to let off steam, to build community and find support. I mourn their loss – and often fought losing battles to have them included in many new-builds in my local authority…’

    Isabelle Boyd is a former secondary headteacher in Scotland, who recently retired as assistant chief executive at North Lanarkshire Council

    What are your views about the changes? How important were long lunch breaks and staffrooms to you in your job? Do you miss them and why? Are they vital for maintaining teachers’ wellbeing?

  2. red_observer

    red_observer Star commenter

    Great thread starter!
    I totally regret the demise of the staff room environment. It has all but disappeared in our place. The SMT have tried to get people in at break through free toast and coffee and some do attend. But before and after school the staff room resembles the Marie Celeste. The reason by and large is the mentality that education has become. Everyone is trying to cover their own backs and there is no sense of community any more. People are worried about their jobs as well and even worse various departments use time for intervention sessions and revision lessons as league tables and Ofsted drive a spurious objective to increase people’s learning. The fun ABs comrade spirit of teaching has disappeared. Staff feel guilty if they go into the staff room in that they think they should be doing other things.
    It’s a tragedy. Morale is low. Academisation of schools has created division in staff rooms.
    Teaching has become data riven and treats kids as robots and objects. The release of the staff room is no longer available and to young teachers, schools must be cold places... no wonder they don’t stay long in the profession.
  3. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Just no time to get there, too much planning and other stuff to get through and I do long-term supply combined with gaming the system which seriously cuts my workload but I still can't get there.

    Only the low-paid (TAs, Cover Supervisors and supply teachers) have the time to get there.
  4. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    A decent staffroom is a forum for justified discontent. A nice gathering ground for the shart on chalk facers. Hardly surprising it wouldn't be in the interests of a school running to as many pernicious remits as it does. It is for similar reasons that nowadays it is simply not done to stand around overtly chatting whilst on duty.

  5. red_observer

    red_observer Star commenter

    Yes. I’m sure Heads and their Gauleiters see staff rooms as subversive areas in their school. In fact I’m convinced they did/do.
  6. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    It's not just the return of longer lunch breaks that is needed for proper staffrooms but as has already been hinted at, a culture whereby people have the time and feel able and confident to go and relax for a while during the school day.

    I can't help but feel though if lunch times were lengthened, teachers would simply be expected to spend part of it running some "catch-up" session to use the extra time in a way that could be shown to Ofsted or added to management cv's as testament to how "effective" they were.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Ay. It's like PoWs being forced to sit in adjacent cells alone in silence, lest they plan an escape together.
  8. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I'm way too busy to spend time in a staffroom... have too much to do.

    Especially as the cuts reduce the staff numbers so more is piled on.
    woollani and (deleted member) like this.
  9. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    I totally do. I get that schools start earlier to accommodate working parents (errr.. unless they're teachers), but the ending of the school day before 3 pm???
    Why not extend the lunch break so that students don't have to eat their lunch out of a non-recyclable pot, on the move, and could attend a lunchtime club? Our kids never sit at a table and eat a leisurely meal from a china plate with metal cutlery. They have 40 mins of which 10 involves queueing and they prob need to pee as well.
    Inciting savagery.
    InkyP, agathamorse, woollani and 2 others like this.
  10. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    Very much like my school. There are significantly less staff now. Even so, I do try and get 20 minutes or so to eat in the staff room every day because it makes me feel much better to have spoken to colleagues and to actually have sat down to eat. And because I can't microwave my leftovers in my class room. But I don't always manage it.
    lanokia and (deleted member) like this.
  11. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Oh I wish I could ... although the atmosphere from some colleagues is too judgemental for my tastes... we have a 'clique' in my area. Best avoided...
    woollani likes this.
  12. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    It's a well known fact that staffrooms are breeding grounds for sedition! :eek: ;)
  13. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    That's sad. One of the things I like about my school is the staff. No one I can't have a chat with and many I genuinely like. If it was like yours I think I'd avoid the staff room too. Can't be doing with people in such giant judgy pants they're in constant danger of getting a wedgie!
    nizebaby and Dragonlady30 like this.
  14. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    I did my best.
  15. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Me too!!:oops: :D :p :cool:
    racroesus likes this.
  16. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    One thing I did learn was that folks in cliques were sh I t scared of their own shadow. Folks in cliques trust no one, not even other members.
    Nanny Ogg and lanokia like this.
  17. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    My last school had a staffroom. It was the hub of the school. The staff often got together for breakfast. We all brought in a little something. The left overs got eaten at break and at lunch and after school. Most teachers, not all, made it to to the staff room for coffee and we tried to spend at least part of the lunch break in there. And before folk say that can't happen and the staff must be shirking, it's not true. The staff worked hard but recognised the value of 20mins socialising. The head joined us when she could-not to spy but to socialise with us.I've left the school now and that's one of the things I miss.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. Chicken_madras

    Chicken_madras Occasional commenter

    I have taught in two schools since qualifying. One of the huge reasons I applied for both schools was because when I spent time looking round I visited the staff room at lunch time and it was full of people chatting and laughing happily. Teachers and TAs, SLT and the HT even. I would think twice about applying for a job at a school with no staff room or a permanently empty one. I go to mine for at least 30 mins every lunch time.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    Until about four years ago we had an hour and five minutes for lunch.
    I would sometimes go on a spin on the bicycle I kept in school for lunchtime tours.
    I was a better teacher in the afternoon after it.
    40 mins now :(
    agathamorse, racroesus and nizebaby like this.
  20. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Nobody has yet mentioned the main reason often touted for shortening the lunch break-we cannot be answerable for a whole hours worth of poor behaviour of the children. Or rather, we cannot get our senior staff to be available for supporting staff on duty and doing those higher up sanctions when there has been, say,a fight on the field.
    The school cannot break properly because the school cannot have the children enjoying that length of time keeping the adults on their toes.
    Because the adults, the senior ones, have more important meetings, you know. About numbers. To do with the children. Who cannot be managed for an hour at lunchtime.
    Zoom in on folks in a school on their lunchbreak. All teachers busy. All senior staff trying to run with a piece of paper whilst in a suit, trying not to look as if they are running. All children outside laughing
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019

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