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Lunch is Not a Luxury.

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by jonowen, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Sorry Francesco, the title of your thread made me think you were being forced to give up your breaks. I don't mean to be blunt, but at the end of the day it is your choice - if you can't fit everything in then you decide what you leave out. If you still feel pressured into missing your breaks maybe a word with your union is the way to go?
    It's not only the teaching profession who are stretched to the limit and one thing's for sure- the more you do effectively the more you will be asked and/or expected to do.
    Off home now after my full 8 period day with 50 mins work before my 1st class, 40 mins working through my lunch and 15 mins at end of day tidying/prep for tomorrow. (I did have a 3 min loo break twice today as well [​IMG] )
    Joni x
  2. chubbyone

    chubbyone Occasional commenter

    Think every is different. I work in primary and due to the timetable I can be in the classroom from 8.30 to 12.00 then 1.00 -3.30 without a break ( we have flexible breaks so you have to stay with your class when they go out) lunch is 12.00-1.00 but by the time I have tidied from morning and set up for afternoon it is reduced to say 45 mins then marking is either done or left till after school. It is down to personal choice and priorities. Officially I am entitled to have 45 minutes and not an hour do if I want to I can leave the premises. In reality I always stay on sight and find I give myself a 30 min max break as I find if I stay in the classroom marking get interrupted by lunch time supervisors or children ( which I do not mind). That is my choice, the one thing I will not do is volunteer to do groups on a dinnertime. I know some teachers do but I will not Saturn the choice of how I spend my dinner break s reduced. I also have to add that I have come across teachers in the past who are first in and last out if the staffroom at lunch and breaks, and if anyone questions them they say they are allowed. In all honestly a break does good, even if a stack of paperwork needs to be done a breather makes the jobs easier.the bottom line is it is personal choice. If someone dictated to me that I had to do something then I would then probably choice to go off site for 45 mins.
  3. Nice to have replies, to stimulate a varied set of responses... Indeed, as written above, everyone is different...

    I am not fixated on this but if I had to choose between my students and not eating I would choose eating,

    personally, because my students are entitled to plenty of breaks to refresh their brain power, whereas

    staff seem to be forgotten about in this respect... We all know what working time regs. say about minimum

    breaks and the rest, but I think it is culturally absurd to have a work ethic that sees food and proper breaks

    as a "choice" optional! I am now having to tell students on occasions that I need food because I have not

    been allowed lunch, and I will ask them to return later. I am afraid that if I am running on empty my mood

    and ability to cope are compromised, and in the end it will be the students who will suffer. Given that the

    volume of classes, workload, and additional support far outweigh staff numbers, we could cease to

    eat and sleep for weeks on end and still not be on top of our team targets, so in a sense of hopelessness

    I choose to save myself and my health and opt out of constant, hamster-wheel giving, and look after myself.

    No, I do not want to use my thirty minutes to talk while eating, and risk swallowing food the wrong way;

    no, I do not want to use my thirty minutes to do work while eating, and risk dropping crumbs all over my

    netbook or student paperwork; and finally, I do not want to be hassled during my lunch breaks, because

    they should be almost sacred.

    I do not want to be told that we should look at lunches as a matter of conscience, because our bodies

    and minds are made of what we eat, and a squidgy canteen sandwich force-fed down us in five minutes

    is the sort of thing you see in hot-dog swallowing championship: it is not eating, and can lead to gastric

    complications. We want people to not be hassled during lunch with yet more work or requests for help...

    The best thing would be to always leave and go out, but that is not always possible (weather being one


    Please ignore my rant and just contribute your thoughts to the original post, based on your experience in

    comparison to your needs.

    Thank you
  4. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    More than one school I've worked in has squeezed teacher lunch breaks to less than legal requirements.
    One Primary claimed to try to allow the 'full' twenty minutes break at lunchtime, but this was often impinged on by demands by pupils and would shrink to 10 or 15 mins. No other breaktimes were permissable. You had to plan visits to the toilet very carefully - before 8.40, in the 20 min lunchbreak at 1.00 or after 3.30.
    One Secondary expected teachers to keep pupils who had misbehaved (could be quite a horde) and have a word with them at the start of lunchtime. If you were running a lunchtime club, you could well end up with 15mins max.
    Many's the time I've opened my lunchbox at 4pm to try and grab a bit to eat before a staff meeting of some description.
    It's not good enough. It takes its toll on our health.

  5. lizgaskell

    lizgaskell Occasional commenter

    Hi folks
    We get just 30 mins for lunch, as do the students, to be fair. But I find that this means, in reality, we get about 15 mins. These days we are all under pressure and our lessons are so often monitored that you need 8-10 mins to set up for next lesson, then checking your emails (why do we have soooo many?) and sometimes eating (selfish, I knwo) means that I will often not get to the loo until after school!
    I may have read the OP wrongly but I got the impression that they a similar sort of restriction? When we had one hour I did often CHOOSE to work for some of it.
  6. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    In the 5 years I've worked at my (secondary) school, lunchtime has been reduced from 45 minutes, to 40 minutes, and now to 30 minutes. In reality this means we get about 15-20 minutes maximum, less if we need to deal with a pupil issue after the lesson or do any preparation for afternoon lessons. This really isn't enough to get to the staffroom/dept office, heat up food/make a drink, eat and get back to our room before the pupils, let alone if you need to use the toilet (which you probably do, because it'll have been 2 hours since break and you might have been on duty at break anyway so have not had chance to use the toilet for 4.5 hours). I have some health issues which mean I need the toilet more than average and feel unwell if I don't eat regularly, so I find it very difficult to have such a short lunchtime coupled with 2 x break duties a week.
    Needless to say, nobody runs any lunchtime clubs any more, despite many requests from pupils for music/drama/sport/languages clubs.
  7. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Well said! Most of our SMT have no timetabled lessons at all, so can have lunch when they choose and are not constrained by when the bell goes and what lessons they have before/after lunch.
  8. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    But surely practicalities get in the way of a teacher going to the toilet whenever they need to - if I was to go during a lesson, I'd have to leave my classroom, walk down the stairs, across the yard and to the other side of the next building, and back again. Are you suggesting I should just leave my class while I do that? I can't imagine anyone in school agreeing to me doing that! We don't let the pupils go to the toilet during lesson time, we expect them to go at break & lunch unless they have a medical condition, is this not normal for secondary schools??
  9. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi Lucyrose,
    please credit me with some common sense - personally I go to the loo after my 55 min journey to school before 9 am, then at morning break, then lunch and before my 55 min return journey at 3.45.
    yes, I'd say that was normal, but kids are normal too. Some (especially the younger ones) forget to go at break cos' they are having too much fun with their pals - if they ask I would never dream of saying no. Can you imagine the embarrassment if a pupil had an "accident" in front of their peers? It would scar them emotionally for some time.
    Incidentally, some time ago I taught next door to a very old fashioned lady teacher (kids loved to wind her up) who refused to let any pupils out and she was always complaining about lesson interruptions when pupils asked out to the toilet - she wouldn't give in. I had hardly any interruptions because I'd allow a toilet break. Also, some kids get so wound up with stress of their work that they need a break to clear their heads, and a toilet-break avoids a tantrum or similar.
    Anyway, sorry original poster for hi-jacking your Lunch title [​IMG]
  10. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    I'm not suggesting that you don't have any common sense, but you did
    seem to be saying that teachers and pupils all have the right to go to
    the toilet as and when they need to and that anything else is against
    human rights, and this is clearly not feasible for teachers. I agree that in an ideal world, teachers should have time during the day to eat, drink, use the toilet and relax for a few minutes, but as I said, in my experience and from what other posters have said, this doesn't seem to happen. Obviously we should go before school/at break/at lunch if we can, but that isn't always possible. In my school if we have break duty (or spend break dealing with issues from the first 2 lessons, which happens regularly) and no free
    periods in the morning then we have to go from 8.30am-1.20pm without the
    opportunity to go to the toilet. I don't like this, but I don't really
    see any way around it. If you can see a solution then please
    let me know!
    To be sidetracked from the original point of this thread, as far as pupils leaving lessons to go to the toilet
    is concerned, it's not actually up to me, it's my school's policy that they are not
    allowed out of lessons for toilet breaks unless they have a medical
    note. The toilets are locked during lesson time so even if they're allowed out, they'd have to go and find someone to open the door for them, so pupils remember to go at break & lunch and don't bother asking during lessons, and I've never seen or heard of any incidents of pupils soiling themselves as a result of this! I've worked in schools where this policy didn't exist, and it was
    amazing how many pupils suddenly needed the toilet when the class was
    about to have a test or start doing some individual work, even if it was only 5-10 minutes after break or lunch. Another problem was that groups of
    pupils from different classes would arrange in advance to get out of
    their lessons for a "toilet break" at the same time and would then meet
    up for a smoking/graffiti/disturbing other lessons break instead. If
    you tried to prevent them from leaving then there'd be an almighty
    tantrum and huge disruption to the lesson. I much prefer a complete ban on leaving lessons, although it goes without saying that if a pupil is obviously desperate and it isn't near the end of the lesson, I'd let them go.
  11. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    You are entitled to a break of 20 minutes if you work six hours. The break should be around the middle of your working shift. That goes for any employee in this country.
    Many teachers don't get that even. Bearing in mind that we are supposed to drink often to protect our voices (middle aged women may need more frequent toilet breaks at certain times of the month too) , it can be tricky to get a chance to go to the loo, especially in schools where the only reasonably secure loos are the other side of the school next to the staffroom. As you move around school, you are still working as a teacher and will often get caught up in dealing with pupils or other staff members.
    I don't remember having a morning break to myself for years; not since I worked supply in a primary school. Usually I end up with pupils who have to be 'kept in' to make up for misdemeanors or who come to ask me for help over some issue or another.
    As I said before, I've often ended up taking my lunch into an after school meeting because I only had enough time in midday break for trip to the loo and a hot drink.
  12. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    It is a medical fact that teachers, especially primary teachers, have the most bladder related problems of all occupations because they cannot find the time "to go". We have only ourselves to blame if our health suffers as a result - that's all that I'm saying.
    checked that with your union have you giraffe? I think you'll find that 5 hours with no break is against your human rights: 20 mins in 6 hours - does that mean 3mins 33secs every hour, 7 mins every 2 hours or 15 mins every 3 hours - we NEED to go to the toilet and we need to eat or we are doing the children in our care a gross diservice
    your school should have a detention policy whereby there is a teacher rota for said pupils who misbehave. So long as teachers are prepared to be the "victims" of not having lunch-breaks, toilet breaks and such like, the bosses will be quite happy to let them get on with it. When you have a bladder/bowel/stomach complaint it can't be proved that it was because you weren't allowed to have the appropriate breaks to avoid these problems - it was your choice to neglect your needs.
  13. I completely agree with Jonowen (as with others) in the idea that it is not up to unions and managers to safeguard
    our right to NOT work through our lunchtime and breaks but rather up to us, the people directly involved. Individually,
    students think that the "quick question" they need to ask us while we are munching over a sandwich will have no impact, but they cannot appreciate that when every other student does the same it obliterates our chance to properly eat and switch off from the stresses of the morning and to let us unwind for a moment: it is our job to tell the students that when we are having our lunch it is half an hour when, unless there is a real emergency, we are unavailable. I find that students, once this is made clear to them, will generally understand that I, like them, need to have breaks.

    Interesting to hear about toilet breaks, because when students have to go, I let them, unless there is a test or we are in the middle of a task which requires everybody to be in situ at that moment, and while I have a good bladder I would expect the same flexibility from the students when it came to staff - typical example: you have run out of tissues and your nose is about to run: do you wipe it on your sleeve? No, you simply excuse yourself and go to the bathroom to get some toilet tissue.

    Whether you are for or against lunchbreaks, in the end, the message we try to give the students is that they SHOULD have three meals a day, and that skipping lunch can really affect their ability to perform; yet, we cannot reinforce this message in any better way than leading by example, and showing how we value our lunch break, and how we eat healthily. Also, if we are to lead by example in telling the students that food and drink are NOT allowed in classes, how then are we to do this if we are forced to eat at our desk because (from what I read on this thread) we are not given enough protected time to physically walk away to a place where food and drink can be consumed, and return in good time for the lesson?

    As a poster wrote here, the more organised and efficient we are, the more work we are given daily: if this argument were grounded in reality, which I feel it sadly is, it would mean that no matter how efficiently you used your time it would still lead to your breaks being seen as an unwelcome optional. I feel that there is a two-faced attitude from management, where on the one side staff are being send to Health and Wellbeing courses, and on the other they are given such a workload or additional support duties that in effect they are overworked and unable to dedicate time to one another: for above all else, impinging on proper breaks also means (as one poster highlighted) that staff cease to stop together and have a chance to say more than "How are you?"... Surely what makes a good team is one where members of staff communicate on a daily basis as human beings first, and weekly/monthly at staff meetings second!

    This has been a very interesting thread so far... My thanks to all who contributed!
  14. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    I agree with you too Francesco - what a sensible post.
    Can I keep the thread going by asking how many teachers have pupils who don't have any breakfast? We have a breakfast club, but the kids who miss breakfast are the ones running late for school so BC is no use.
  15. Yes Jon,
    please do, it is an interesting question... Recently I had a student telling me that he has now been diagnosed with Asperger's, and that one of the things he does not do indipendently (unless specifically told to) is to remember to eat in the morning... In the FE sector, a lot of students still live at home but a significant proportion lives away from home, meaning that students such as the one mentioned above are vulnerable to poverty; when you are short of cash and live on your own, one of the things you can cut on is how much you eat, but sometimes you may be undernourished without knowing this, with some immediate or hidden/long-term consequences, depending on how long you run or reserves...
    It may be different in schools, given the assumption that all children come from homes where breakfast is not an optional ...Again, it would be interesting to hear what staff who work in the PE/SE sector may have to say about this...


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