Local teachers work six days a week: Teachers’ Union

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A growing number of local teachers are regularly working a six-plus day week because of unsustainable workloads, according to a Coleraine teacher.

“This comes as no surprise to local teachers and as a union we are in contact with a growing number of members struggling to cope with burgeoning workloads which are just not feasible in the contracted timeframe,” said Jacquie Reid from the town, Deputy General Secretary of Ulster Teachers’ Union and a former teacher at Millburn Primary.

“The result is these teachers are becoming stressed and disenchanted and the impact is on not just the teachers but the children. The situation is worryingly unsustainable.

“Teachers’ frustrations at their long hours are heightened by the fact that it is bureaucracy which is taking up their time rather than teaching. Perhaps our Department of Education could take a leaf from their Scottish colleagues’ book and establish a Working Group on Tackling Bureaucracy.

“In its latest report the group identifies specific areas where changes need to be made so teachers have the freedom they need to do the job to the best of their ability.

“It highlights specific areas where changes need to be made to tackle unnecessary bureaucracy ie forward planning; assessment; self-evaluation and improvement processes; and monitoring and reporting.

“The emphasis is on trusting teachers’ expertise to actually do their job as opposed to constantly having to revert to pointless paperwork exercises which are in some way supposed to ‘prove’ teachers can do the job for which they’ve been trained in the first place.

“We also need to see a re-establishment of trust between employing authorities and teachers where a supportive inspectorate helps and mentors – as is the case in Scotland where, in one school, its inspection report stated that the school’s key priority was to address this very bureaucracy!”