Friday, 1 February 2019

The benefits of working part time. And how to make ends meet.

When our daughter returned to work after maternity leave, some eighteen months back now, she did so as a part-timer. Pretty sure that this baby is the last she is likely to have, she was determined to be able to enjoy her as much as possible. There seems to me to be little point in having children if you don’t enjoy them.

The trouble is that teaching takes up such a lot of your time that there’s not a lot left over for enjoying life, let alone enjoying your children. Phil and I used to juggle things so that I taught a lot of evening classes while he took over some of the parenting. But he still had to do his own marking and preparation, fitting it in after the children’s bedtime. This is the kind of thing that goes on in teachers’ households throughout the country.

Here is an article by Holly Rigby, a teacher, a Labour party member and an activist in the National Education Union. She’s not even talking about teachers with small children, just the general stress of the job, and advocates part-time work as a solution for teacher stress. It’s what stopped her becoming another statistic, another well-qualified teacher who left the profession after only a few years in the job. Instead she went down to four days a week to make her workload manageable. And even so she spends most of her day off on school work. Well, of course, this is what you do! What’s more, she has to find other sources of income, such as writing, to supplement her reduced salary.

The ideal would be to encourage / allow all teachers to work a four-day week, and let them do so without any reduction in pay. Holly Rigby thinks a Labour government would make that a real possibility. I am rather sceptical. Forty years ago, indeed almost fifty years ago, we were campaigning for a reduction in class sizes but some children are still taught in classes of over thirty pupils.

Okay, it’s not the same as the almost fifty in my own primary school class but even so, throwing in a teaching assistant some of the time to make the pupil-staff ratio look better is still not quite what we were agitating for. And I suspect that a four-day week on full pay will remain an unattainable ideal for a while yet, especially as some schools, especially academies, are talking of increasing class-contact time to save money!

I am quite glad to be a retired lady!

Meanwhile, we have just had the usual notification of what our state pension is for the coming year. Probably enough to live in, given that our house is paid for but it wouldn’t pay for holidays abroad. However, it’s a good job we have teachers’ pensions as well, and some savings! Especially so if food prices rise, as everyone is predicting they will.

And now even quite sensible news sources are suggesting that stockpiling basic essentials and medicines, in case of a crash-out, no-deal Brexit, might be a good idea. Time to make a shopping list.

Tea, coffee, baked beans, rice, tins of this and that .... but, please, no corned beef!

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