Do teachers get “excessive” holidays? Hell no.
“Teaching needs to operate like other jobs, with the same hours, days and weeks as the rest of the economy, rather than cluttered school hours where there is little beyond the face-to-face time,” Andrew Laming told Fairfax Media.
Laming admitted that some teachers went “above and beyond”, and many teachers put in extra time outside of school hours for marking and preparation, but said this wasn’t measured or assured.
“There is just no evidence that the work they are doing at home makes any difference, and there’s no evidence that what they do at home is actually where you’d want a teacher focusing their efforts,” he said.
Laming thinks teachers should be spending their spare time studying.
The deputy president of the Australian Education Union, Maurie Mulheron, says Laming is “so out of touch” with the reality of what’s happening in teaching.
“I think a lot of teachers would like to actually have an eight-hour working day, given that most of them work far in excess of that,” he tells Mamamia.
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“Most of the research that we’ve done is showing that teachers are working anything up to 50, 60 hour weeks on a regular basis throughout the school year.
“Teachers are working before school, getting very little break during the day, working after hours at school, then working in the evening, which eats into family time, and spending a good part of the weekend on preparation and marking and assessment and a range of other things.”
He says teachers can’t teach successfully without that level of commitment.
“The job is too complex and too difficult if you’re not putting in those kind of hours. It’s a problem that teachers are working so hard and such long hours.”
As for Laming’s proposal that teachers should only be getting four weeks holiday a year, Mulheron points out that teachers are working through their holidays already.
“Most teachers would be lucky to get four weeks where they’re clear of doing schoolwork,” he says.
Mulheron notes that Federal Parliament only sat for 20 weeks last year.
“So if we use his measure, that means he had 32 weeks of the year he didn’t have to report to work,” he adds.
“Maybe in those 32 spare weeks he could use that time to visit schools and get a dose of reality.”
Laming, a Queensland MP, worked as a doctor and a management consultant before entering Parliament. This is not the first time he’s had a dig at teachers. Last year, in mid-January, he posted on Facebook, “Are teachers back at work this week, or are they ‘lesson planning’ from home? Let me know exactly.”
Soon afterwards, PM Malcolm Turnbull, whose daughter Daisy is a schoolteacher, gave Laming a rap over the knuckles, saying his daughter had “some concerns” and he was going to pass them on to the MP.
Clearly, Laming didn’t get the message.
You don’t need to be a teacher, or even have a teacher in the family, to appreciate how hard they work. Anyone who has a child at school can see that teachers are putting in a huge amount of time outside the 9am-3pm school day.
It’s not a regular office job. It’s a profession full of people who want to make a difference to kids’ lives, and they’re working unpaid, unseen hours to do that.
Too many good teachers have already left the profession due to burnout. We don’t want to keep losing them.