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Working as a “dinner lady”

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Pl501, May 23, 2019.

  1. Pl501

    Pl501 New commenter

    My school have layed off all lunch staff and are making teachers give out plates, cutlery, serve food to the children, clear the plates, then serve pudding, clear the plates, tidy the table and take children out to the payground. At first they asked us to volonteer but now I’ve really had enough and I’m being forced to continue - its now mandatory for all class teachers. Also really fed up of only getting a 20 min break, if I’m lucky before the afternoon lessons. Does my school have the right to do this?
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I'm presuming this is a cost-cutting move and this is either a small Indie or an Academy. You need to check your School policy on duties, though as you are getting 20 mins lunch-break it probably is legal and many schools have reduced lunch breaks these days.
    I've certainly worked in a school where teachers had to do lunch duty and cleaning up after lunch.
    stonerose, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Union... ASAP.
    Bentley89, Marisha, Laphroig and 12 others like this.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    52.2. No teacher may be required under their contract of employment as a teacher to undertake midday supervision.

    Daily break

    52.3. A teacher who is required to be available for work for more than one school session on any school day must be allowed one break of reasonable length either between school sessions or between the hours of 12 noon and 2.00pm. Deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers and teachers on the pay range for leading practitioners are entitled to a break of reasonable length as near to the middle of each school day as is reasonably practicable.

    This is enshrined within STPCD.

    As school rep I would already know whether we were working under STPCD and nearly all schools do but you need to check just to be sure.

    So. Assuming that is the case:
    1 refer to 52.2 and insist that the duties you describe meet the criteria for midday supervision (meet and EXCEED)
    2 remind your employer that 52.3 backs up 52.2 to ensure you do get a break

    They'll say that you can have 20 minutes to yourself after you've finished dishing out etc. They'll say that 20 minutes constitutes a break of reasonable length. That is your legal entitlement if you work a 6+ hour day and you almost certainly do (check your directed time).

    But why is everyone not up in arms about it? That's really the only way to fight this. You all dig your heels in and refuse. If the union reps aren't on it already? Well, why not? Why the HELL not?!

    It boils down to solidarity. You need to get your colleagues onside. On your own? School is just going to go down the the "minimum legal requirement" route. And what's the union going to do? They won't fight super-hard on your behalf if nobody else wants to know. Grrrrrr.
    vannie, nizebaby, stonerose and 10 others like this.
  5. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

  6. princesslegend

    princesslegend Occasional commenter

    I'm appalled at this.
    I'd be out of that door ASAP and reporting them.
  7. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    As a matter of interest do your SLT do this too?
    nizebaby, stonerose, steely1 and 6 others like this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    This is shocking but it does not surprise me.

    How can a school not budget enough money to pay catering staff?

    I bet the Head hasn't reduced their salary.

    I would be inclined to look for work elsewhere.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    They should start crowdfunding and get their own JustGiving page like this school not a million miles away from me! Then they might be able to pay for staff!

    Maybe go out with the kids during maths lessons and scour the gutters for loose change or rifle the bins for stuff to sell on eBay???
  10. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    That's a pretty poor state of affairs.
    As others have said, that STPCD stuff first of all.
    If, as @Lara mfl 05 has suggested your school "can" do it because they are outside STPCD, short term there's not much you can do.
    Longer term you need to unite and talk constructively to the management.
    You are employed to teach the children. This includes preparing lessons and keeping an orderly classroom.
    If you are serving puddings and wiping tables, you are not doing the job you are paid for. Effective teaching requires an alert mind, this means a sensible pause between activities so you can interact positively with the children. Is there a teacher in the land who doesn't need to ready the classroom before the afternoon, as well as visiting the loo.
    If they make you wipe tables you are distracted from the primary professional role that you thought they were employing you for.
    Perhaps they need reminding of this. Maybe you are drinking coffee and talking to a friend about Eastenders - you are also refreshing yourself ready for a proper afternoons work.
  11. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    In addition to what everyone has said, check you school calendar and or the directed time provision that is published each year.

    If that lunchtime supervision is not part of directed time then you cannot be directed to do it.

  12. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I would argue too that in these days when wellbeing is such a buzz word it is important for young children- I am guessing you are in a primary school- to learn how to interact with adults in a variety of situations. Many kids now do not play out or interact with neighbours as much as they did before- they don't go to the corner shop independently. Dinner ladies have a very different and important role in the lives of very young children.
  13. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Also 20 minutes for lunch isn't enough - it isn't even enough time to go to the toilet and have a proper break so you don't have to wolf your food down.

    I would look for better working conditions.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think you're going to have to leave.

    Nobody else seems to be objecting to it. Idiots! It's every kind of wrong and nothing good can be said for it except that the school is either broke and/or can't manage the budget. Either way? The writing is on the wall.

    If I were HT and couldn't pay for proper staff? id do it myself and be glad to do so as it IS an important part of the day, a chance to get to know kids AND a way to monitor behaviour.
  15. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Outrageous! What will this school do next? Sack the cleaning staff and send teachers to classrooms with mops and buckets?
    Dinay, num3bers, Marisha and 14 others like this.
  16. Flowersinspring

    Flowersinspring Lead commenter

    Don't even joke!!!! At the excuse of a PRU I was unfortunate to work at in a previous lifetime, the bat s*** crazy person running it (into the ground!!!) actually put together a rota of cleaning duties for staff when there was no cleaner for a while. Strangely, that email never made it to my inbox. The sad thing is, staff actually went along with it with good humour and pride! Unbelievable.
  17. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Yep, Had that too. :rolleyes: Though fortunately it was just a case of ensuring our own classroom was cleaned. But even so . . . .
    jumpingstar, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  18. princesslegend

    princesslegend Occasional commenter

    Yep. I had this. A few of us objected, got shouted down. Then a colleague who was leaving made an invoice for the cleaning and took it to the HT :D
    Obviously never paid it but nicely done I thought.
  19. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    So you began by volunteering to help, because you are a kind, hardworking professional who wanted to put the pupils' needs first.
    Your HT shows their gratitude and respect for you by making this extra work compulsory, with no regard for the stress and exhaustion this will inflict on the teachers.
    I suggest the theme for this weeks assembly should be:-
    No good deed goes unpunished
    Marisha, stonerose, MrLW1 and 8 others like this.
  20. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    This needs challenging. If you have an in-school union rep they ought to be raising it regardless of whether individual staff are complaining. What have they removed from your workload? Will cleaning be added next?
    We're all sympathetic to the problem of tight school budgets, but just adding to the workload of people who are no doubt already working longer hours than they should is NOT the solution.
    stonerose, steely1, MrLW1 and 6 others like this.

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