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What percentage of your weekly working hours have educational value?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Corvuscorax, Jan 19, 2020.


What percentage of working hours are of value educationally?

  1. below 20%

    5 vote(s)
  2. 20-40 %

    6 vote(s)
  3. 40-60%

    24 vote(s)
  4. 60-80%

    7 vote(s)
  5. above 80%

    9 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    If you are in a UK state school? We all moan about time wasting, so how much time are we wasting on things that don't actually enhance knowledge and understanding inside children's heads. I spend less than a quarter of my working hours actually in front of a class, and much of the rest is just deadwood. Please record the percentage of your working week that you judge DOES have educational value. Thank you
  2. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I have been out of teaching for eight years but when i was 'helped off the bus' but by the time i left the 'educationally valuable' to bullsh.it ratio was at least 1:1 in favour of the latter.
  3. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    It’s funny, but we were talking about this exact issue at work last week - a few of us are finding that our job has expanded in the last decade or so to the point where being responsible for the actual teaching of children seems a very small part of what we have to do... all the safeguarding paper trails and following up every incident with phone calls, planning & risk assessments for trips, responding to emails from parents, monitoring our subject in preparation for a ‘deep dive’, and providing evidence for other subject leaders....

    More worryingly, it seems to have been a very long time since we had any training about actual teaching... practically zero if you look at foundation subjects, especially art, DT or music. In the last decade, we’ve spent almost all training time talking about assessment and data in Maths and English, and now seem to spend our time being told about child safety.

    It feels as though it’s assumed we just fit the teaching in wherever there’s room... whatever standard is fine... it’s still not the priority...
  4. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Occasional commenter

    On the arguably productive side:
    • I teach 19 periods a week (a lesson is 1 hour), plus maybe 30 mins pw of the 2.5 hours of tutor time.
    • 2 hrs using "frees"/PPA to plan and/or mark.
    • 5 hours or so pw of marking and planning at the end of the day
    On the unproductive side:
    • 2 hours of the remaining tutor time
    • 1 hour of compulsory after-school contact time.
    • Of the remaining "frees" (4), two are taken up with line management meetings, which are of no benefit to anyone, least of all me or the children. They make the people I meet with feel busy, though, so somebody's happy.
    • 1 hour of intervention. This is nominally useful but is it? Really?
    • 1 hour per week is taken up with after-school meetings, which - again - are purposeless and could generally be a two-line email.
    • 30 mins per week is taken up with whole-school/department/year team briefings.
    • ~2 hrs per week of admin or general faffing in the remaining "frees".
    • 2.5 hrs on lunch + 1.5 hrs on break (including 1 duty)
    So to tot up:
    • 26.5 hours of arguable productivity.
    • 13.5 hours of pointless dross.
    About two thirds of my working hours are spent relatively productively, it turns out. I can live with that.
  5. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I probably have around the same number of productive hours as you, but at least 3x the dross
  6. Bentley89

    Bentley89 Occasional commenter

    The question now is whether you have the backbone to challenge this or to just simply stop doing the dross and fight that battle if/when it comes.

    I managed to trim a few hours a week off my workload when I decided to simply not follow all the stupid rules that were imposed. And no surprise, SLT didn't even realise I had stopped doing them, so it clearly wasn't that important or valuable in the first place!
  7. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    Apologies, but IMO some of these are meant to have educational value but that for some reason in your day they seem to lack it.

    For example, tutor time is of educational value when it supports the pupils, checks equipment, delivers PSHE etc. Line management meetings are supposed to support you as a practitioner which in turn has educational value.

    I want to respond to the survey above but I'm struggling with the question. Surely most things we do are meant to have educational value?
  8. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Occasional commenter

    Yes and no. However, I think some of this is just poor planning of the timetable cycle. 2.5 hours of tutor time per week is just silly, and instead of positioning short AM reg sessions in the mornings, they have an extended one at lunchtime every day. It's useless overkill. So something which could have theoretical value becomes pointless bloat.

    Yes, line management meetings CAN support you, but in practice I suspect many postholders - perhaps even a majority? - find them a burden which is largely focused on administrative trivia or mean-spirited faux-accountability. It's not for nothing that shops sell those "I survived another meeting..." mugs: meetings are the worst thing about many people's working life.
  9. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    But again, it boils down to what you do in that time. 2.5 hours a week of tutor time isn't a bad thing if the pastoral curriculum is well planned and well executed. It would be absolutely tedious if you just sit there and get the kids to read every time. But then again, even that might have educational value if done properly.

    If this is a discussion about how things that were meant to have educational value don't have any because of poor planning and execution, then yes, there's a few of those in my school. But if the question is asking how many tasks by their very nature aren't 'educationally valuable' in some way then I'd say not a great deal.
  10. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    Warning: this tactic can lead to a support plan. If SLT are having a bad day and decide to get a random member of staff in trouble for not writing in a purple pen 2 weeks ago in a student's (who has spent most of the year in the referral room) book.

    If you challenge the pointless stuff you'll definitely be at risk of a support plan.

    If you tactically stop doing the pointless stuff you'll be fine if you have a TLR or suck up to SLT on a daily basis but your average teacher on the front line will probably be put on a support plan in the guise of 'not following policies/teacher standard 38.5.
    BetterNow, agathamorse and tenpast7 like this.
  11. Bentley89

    Bentley89 Occasional commenter

    Incorrect. In my experience, a little comment of 'I will run this by my union rep and see where we stand', makes them back right off.
  12. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    This begs the question, how do you determine what is a 'stupid rule' or not. You might not think that doing x is a good/valuable idea, but SLT are convinced that it is.

    So essentially you are ignoring your boss. Is that the best approach?
    BetterNow likes this.
  13. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    It is very hard not to ignore your Boss when all of the BS is like the proverbial "straw breaking the camel's back".
    I think it is often the case where SLT lose sight of the demands made on the frontline teacher.
    This means many have just worked their way up away from the Pupils and they can then dream up more garbage to reduce Teacher efficiency and destroy any remaining staff morale .
    BetterNow and Bentley89 like this.
  14. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    In some schools, it is as if you are employed to dig holes for eight hours each day, and then expected to fill them in again in the evening.
    BetterNow likes this.
  15. Bentley89

    Bentley89 Occasional commenter

    I will let you decide. Here are a few things that I opted not to do:
    • Colour-code the activities on the plan so differentiation was clear.
    • Once assessments were marked (in purple), they had to be stored alphabetically in the envelope that stayed in our own cupboards!
    • Giving written feedback that included the wording of the LO. For example, if the LO was 'To write a newspaper report using direct quotes', they demanded that every lesson had written feedback that said something like 'Well done, you can write newspaper reports using direct quotes'. Why can't a stamp or ticking system be used and focus on the development points?!
    • We had to write post-it note evaluations and attach to planning. Why not make a quick squiggle or mentally take note for the next lesson? But no, they wanted detailed evaluations on post-its.
    • For a period of time, they wanted planning submitted two weeks in advance which is ridiculous especially as learning develops differently for each child/class, so how can we predict what children will/will not understand in the future? (This soon got dropped as several members of staff argued this).
    • We were told we needed paper planning folders as evidence of what we taught, despite having everything perfectly organised on Google Drive and available for inspection at any time. This was my biggest time saver by simply not doing it.
    There are plenty more I could add to the list but I'm sure you would agree that these are all tasks that do not positively contribute to the teaching & learning process, so why do them?

    Would you suggest, @venny414, that all tasks should be done, regardless of how ridiculous and pointless they are, simply because senior leadership say so? We should all be 'yes' men & women?
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    I think I probably would yes. I think every employed person on the planet gets told to do things by their boss that they either don’t want to do or don’t think are useful to some degree. Unfortunately, the nature of ‘work’ is that you’re getting paid to do precisely that - follow instructions.

    Gone are the days that teachers are autonomous professionals that are allowed some sort of professional trust and integrity. We’re glorified admin clerks essentially. And whilst yes, I agree wholeheartedly that some of the things you’ve listed above are ridiculous, if you don’t do them then you put yourself in the firing line.

    You have every right to be angered by being told to do the things you deem pointless. Many of us do. But there are other professions...
  17. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

  18. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Occasional commenter

    I'm sorry, @venny414, but that kind of supine attitude is exactly what's got us in this mess in the first place. I'm a bloody good teacher, and my professional duties are clear. They do not include pointless admin which does nothing to help children learn, and so I will not do that.

    If SLT want admin of this type doing, then they need to hire more admin staff. Until that happens, I will be sticking to what STPCD has always said: that I am emphatically NOT an admin clerk but a skilled professional. My performance in the classroom speaks for itself and I won't be a quisling by meekly agreeing to whatever some 27-year-old idiot on £30,000 more than me has decided, on the basis of ****-all, strikes them as a good idea this week.

    If I end up in the "firing line", good luck to them. I've nearly two decades of practice and results that even the most determined SLT commandant would struggle to find fault with. And we're in a recruitment crisis. If they really want to give me a hard time when they have no chance of replacing me, GOOD. F*CKING. LUCK.

    We have to stand up.
  19. Bentley89

    Bentley89 Occasional commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  20. Bentley89

    Bentley89 Occasional commenter

    There are other professions @venny414, you are correct. However, I am a highly skilled and experienced teacher. My job is to teach, not to complete pointless admin tasks. If you wish to be that person, then more fool you.

    However, my point still stands (as I think you have missed it entirely). They stated they expected these tasks to be done, regardless of how pathetic they were, but either:
    1. Didn't check/follow up on it - proving it wasn't that important or relevant.
    2. When they challenged me on why it wasn't being done, they were told and they backed down, presumably knowing it was a silly task that contributed nothing positive to teaching & learning.

    Why is having paper copies such a good idea if the digital plan has links to the presentations, video links, media, activities etc? I'm assuming because not everyone is as tech-savvy and still like a bit of paper? But yes, they tried making us keep a paper copy of everything.

    Finally, they did check my folder and we had that conversation. In a folder, I had a hyperlink to the relevant Shared Drive on Google Drive and showed them the annotations (where it was relevant) of students who required extra support and those who require more challenge in the next lesson. SLT decided this was acceptable (whilst others continued to plough paper in to their ring-binders...)
    agathamorse likes this.

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